Democrats focus on Cheney office's involvement in manipulation of global warming documents
Democrats are scrutinizing the role that Vice President Dick Cheney's office may have had in helping to manipulate global warming reports, according to Environment & Energy Daily.
"A House probe into reports that the Bush administration improperly edited federal climate studies took a new turn yesterday," writes Lauren Morello for E&E, "as Democrats focused on interactions between the White House Council on Environmental Quality" (CEQ) and Cheney's office.
Morello said the focus was on an April 2003 memo from former CEQ chief Philip Cooney to Cheney staffer Kevin O'Donovan that discusses a study by two "industry-affiliated" scientists who conclude that there is no convincing evidence of warming. "The study," says Morello, "kicked up controversy shortly after it appeared in the journal Climate Science, with three editors of the journal resigning" in protest against the study's publication.
Democrats on the House Oversight and Governmental Affairs Committe argue that the memo "suggests the Bush administration seized on the controversial study to exaggerate existing uncertainty in climate change science," Morello writes.
Committee Chair Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), reports Morello, read aloud from the memo: "We plan to begin referring to this study on administration communications on climate change ... It represents an opening to potentially reinvigorate debate on the actual climate history of the past thousand years."
Waxman said the memo "suggests active coordination between CEQ and the office of the vice president," and demanded that CEQ's director provide additional communications between the two.
Earlier, Democrats probed an oil industry lobbyist hired by the Bush administration who apparently edited documents to minimize the impact of global warming.
Excerpts from the subscription-only Environment & Energy Daily article follow...
Cooney resigned his post as CEQ chief of staff in 2005, following press reports that he had made numerous changes to federal climate reports that created an artificial sense of uncertainty with regard to current climate science. He is now employed by Exxon Mobil Corp.
In sworn testimony before the House panel -- his first congressional appearance since resigning from CEQ -- Cooney said he believed his White House duty was to "align executive branch reports with Bush administration policy."
"I had the authority and responsibility to make recommendations to the documents in question, under an established interagency review process," Cooney said. "I did so using my best judgment, based on the administration's research priorities, as informed by the National Academy of Sciences."
But Democrats questioned Cooney's remarks, based on internal administration documents they obtained during their ongoing probe and on Cooney's 15 years of work for the American Petroleum Institute before he joined the administration.
"When I look at the role you played at API and at the White House, they seem virtually identical," Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said. "In both places, you seem to seed doubt on global warming."