The conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch announced Tuesday that it is suing the Obama administration to obtain the same internal communications of federal scientists sought by a House committee in a dispute over global warming research.
The group said in a news release that it filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Washington on Dec. 2 against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, seeking the agency’s “methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models.”
The suit stems from an investigation by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, into a blockbuster June study by NOAA scientists that refuted the notion of a global warming “pause.” The research, published in the peer-reviewed journal Science, undercut a talking point for skeptics of the conclusion that the planet’s warming is man-made.
Smith has subpoenaed NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan for the internal communications of the scientists who did the study, as well as emails among other staff members. Last week Sullivan gave the committee about 100 emails written by non-scientists on her staff, but not of the scientists, which Smith has taken off the table for now.
Judicial Watch said it submitted its Freedom of Information Act request for the records in late October. After NOAA did not respond, the group sued. Among the data it is seeking are atmospheric satellite temperature readings. Smith has said that these readings are more reliable and show smaller rates of warming than the ocean and land data used in the study. Climate scientists, including those at NOAA, have said that it’s the satellite data that is unreliable.
Judicial Watch took credit for prodding NOAA to release the emails to the committee last week.
“We have little doubt that our lawsuit helped to pry these scandalous climate change report documents from the Obama administration,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
NOAA has already provided all the data and methodology it says its scientists used in the study. Agency staff said they had been in communication with the science committee staff for several weeks before they handed over the emails.
NOAA spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton said she could not comment because the litigation is pending.