The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is refusing to comply with a congressional subpoena asking for internal communications on a recent climate change study conducted by NOAA scientists.
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, said the agency provided the committee with information that is already publicly available and briefed committee members on its findings but had refused to submit the communication documents.
“Because the confidentiality of these communications among scientists is essential to frank discourse among scientists, those documents were not provided to the Committee,” NOAA said, Nature reported. “It is a long-standing practice in the scientific community to protect the confidentiality of deliberative scientific discussions.”
But Smith didn't buy the agency's explanation.
"The agency has yet to identify any legal basis for withholding these documents,” Smith said. “NOAA needs to come clean about why they altered the data to get the results they needed to advance this administration’s extreme climate change agenda."
Smith said that the committee intends to use "all tools at its disposal" to undertake its constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities of the agency.
NOAA spokeswoman Ciaran Clayton denied Smith's accusations and said the agency's climate change study was reviewed and published by a respected scientific journal.
"There is no truth to the claim that the study was politically motivated or conducted to advance an agenda,” Clayton said, according to the Hill. “The published findings are the result of scientists simply doing their job, ensuring the best possible representation of historical global temperature trends is available to inform decisionmakers, including the U.S. Congress.”
Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) called the Republican-led committee's inquiry a "fishing expedition," while head of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists Andrew Rosenberg, a former NOAA employee, said the GOP's efforts conflate science with politics.
Johnson also released a letter insisting that Democrats “won’t be complicit in the illegitimate harassment of our nation’s research scientists”.
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