ACS Joins Science Organizations Rebuking Congressional Climate Inquiry | December 7, 2015 Issue - Vol. 93 Issue 48 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 48 | p. 12 | News of The Week
Issue Date: December 7, 2015 | Web Date: December 1, 2015

ACS Joins Science Organizations Rebuking Congressional Climate Inquiry

House Science Committee Chairman demands documents, e-mails related to climate change paper
Department: Business
News Channels: Environmental SCENE
Keywords: renewable fuel standard, EPA, biofuels, ethanol, policy
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Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science Committee, is tussling with NOAA over a climate change research paper.
Credit: Newscom
Photo of Representative Lamar Smith, Republican from Texas.
 
Rep. Lamar Smith, chair of the House Science Committee, is tussling with NOAA over a climate change research paper.
Credit: Newscom

Several major scientific societies contend that a probe by the powerful chair of the House of Representatives Science, Space, & Technology Committee could have a chilling effect on government scientists and their work.

The American Chemical Society and six other large science organizations sent a letter to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in late November outlining their “grave concern” about his investigation into federal climate change research.

The organizations, which also included the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Geophysical Union, say Smith’s inquiry could prevent federal scientists from research related to important policy questions and inhibit the government’s ability to attract the best researchers.

“Scientists should not be subjected to fraud investigations or harassment simply for providing scientific results that some may see as politically controversial,” the letter states. “Science cannot thrive when policy-makers—regardless of party affiliation—use policy disagreements as a pretext to attack scientific conclusions without public evidence.”

Smith’s probe targets a National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration team’s research into a pause in global warming trends, which some climate skeptics say is a reason to doubt human-caused climate change. The paper, published in Science in June, showed no slowdown in warming (DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa5632).

Since then, Smith has sought internal NOAA e-mails and other documents related to the publication, claiming that the paper was published for political reasons. NOAA staffers have met with the committee to explain that all of the data used in the research are publicly available. But that did not satisfy Smith.

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson of Texas, the top Democrat on the Science Committee, has sent several letters to Smith chastising him for overstepping his bounds. Smith responded last week, accusing Johnson of ignoring her role to conduct oversight over federal research.

Glenn S. Ruskin, director of ACS’s Office of Public Affairs, says, “ACS joined with its science colleagues to express grave concern that the chairman’s continued inquiries to NOAA were overly broad and beyond the scope of the research in question.” ACS publishes C&EN.

 
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Comments
Bernard L. Mahoney, Ph.D. (Mon Dec 14 14:03:32 EST 2015)
Ms. Widener: I enjoyed reading the above article. I was wondering if you could find another ACS commentary on Climate Change that specifically mentioned that the ACS was supporting the 97 science agencies that were calling for the urgent need for international action. I believe it was published in one of the ACS monthly releases probably in late November or early December,2015. I did a search without much success.

Thanks, B. Mahoney

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