More Playing Politics With Science

Ken AshfordBush & Co., Environment & Global Warming & EnergyLeave a Comment

More evidence of expert assessments being “massaged” at the White House here:

A White House official who once led the oil industry’s fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports.

The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase “significant and fundamental” before the word “uncertainties,” tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.

Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues.

Wait, wait.  Someone involved in POLICYMAKING is editing the factual assessments of experts?  In the Bush White House?  Say it ain’t so!! 

But surely this guy has some expertise of his own in the area . . .

Why, indeed he does have some indirect experience:

Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the “climate team leader” and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor’s degree in economics, he has no scientific training

So, a Big Oil lawyer/lobbyist working in the White House is watering down expert assessments about the problem of global warming.  Jeez.

Thus, a sentence which originally read:

"Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."

gets edited to:

"Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change."

…setting the stage for the future excuse: “But the intel back then was bad.  Now please excuse me—I have to undergo treatment for my skin cancer.”

This is so typical.  And here’s what will happen.  The press will not ask about it for weeks, and when they eventually do, Scotty McLellan will give a non-answer answer ("I’ve read the press reports, and I find them interesting").  Maybe, just maybe, Bush will be asked about it, and he will say that “global warming is being studied and you can be sure that we are doing everything to meet those concerns as well as the concerns about energy independence”.


In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company’s “active involvement” in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.


Anyone here NOT think the White House is in the pockets of the oil industry?