The White House isn’t releasing information about how its top science adviser came up with the claim that global warming was the cause of the severe winter in 2014, prompting legal action by a free market think tank this week.
President Barack Obama walks with John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, at the White House in Washington, Friday, March 7, 2014, before the president and first lady Michelle Obama boarded the Marine One helicopter to start a trip to Miami, Florida to visit Coral Reef High School. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Numerous scientists, many believers in climate change, strongly disagreed with the conclusions by John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
That’s not the issue that concerns Sam Kazman, general counsel for the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is bringing the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the White House’s science office.
“This is not about what side of the global warming debate you are on,” Kazman told TheBlaze. “It’s about transparency that this administration claims to represent.”
While Kazman said this is far from the administration’s biggest breach of transparency, he still stressed it is a serious one.
“It might be a minor example, but it is a particularly outrageous one because the erroneous nature of his claims are so obvious,” Kazman said of Holdren.
The White House Office of Science and Technology did not respond to phone and e-mail inquiries for comment.
In January, Holdren blamed global warming for the harsh winter throughout much of the country in a video that was posted on WhiteHouse.gov titled, “The Polar Vortex: Explained in 2 Minutes.”
“If you’ve been hearing extremes cold spells likes the one we are having in the United States now disprove global warming, don’t believe it,” Holdren said in the video. He ends the video by saying, “I believe the odds are that we can expect, as a result of global warming, to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the mid-latitudes and some extreme warmth in the far north.”
There was broad criticism of the assertions in the scientific community, the Washington Post reported.
This prompted CEI to first ask the White House science office for a correction, citing the federal Information Quality Act, which prohibits government agencies from delivering false information. The office denied the petition, saying that Holdren was offering a personal opinion, which is exempt from the law.
At that point, CEI filed a Freedom of Information Act request for documented related to the video’s production, and the research to back up Holdren’s opinion. The science office turned down the request saying the records are part of its “deliberative process.” So CEI filed the FOIA lawsuit to compel the office to provide the records.
During the video, Holdren also said, “A growing body of evidence suggests that the kind of extreme cold being experienced by much of the United States as we speak is a pattern that we can expect to see with increasing frequency as global warming continues.”
It’s bad enough if tax dollars were used to promote an opinion, Kazman said. But Kazman added, the opinion was presented as fact, even if it conflicts with peer-reviewed published science.
“If it’s opinion, it’s not labeled as such,” Kazman said. “He claims there is a growing body of evidence. There is a growing body of evidence in the opposite direction.”