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Senator Barrasso: Why Won't Congressional Democrats Permit Science Oversight Hearings? (PJM Exclusive)

The release of the Climategate files in November of 2009 (reported here in Pajamas Media) is the major science oversight issue of the year.  In December, Dr. Carlin pointed out it was extremely unusual for the EPA to issue an Endangerment Finding based principally on an external source, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Assessment Report Four (IPCC AR4).  Senator Barrasso's report notes that in the Federal Register announcement of the EPA's proposed Endangerment Finding,

The Administrator [EPA] has determined that the body of scientific evidence compellingly supports this finding. The major assessments by the U.S. Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and the National Research Council (NRC) serve as the primary scientific basis supporting the Administrator’s endangerment finding.

However, when asked about this, both Senator Boxer and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson insisted that the IPCC report had not been a major source. As ranking member, Senator Barrasso requested "an immediate investigation into this matter, including taking the necessary steps to prevent any further loss of related documents, e-mails, and other records that would shed some light into this matter." Senator Whitehouse responded:

I do not believe that our subcommittee has any jurisdiction over this matter, which involves the theft by private individuals of emails stored in a British university’s computer system. Furthermore, to my knowledge, the government agencies over which the Oversight Subcommittee has jurisdiction were not involved in any of the exchanges contained in the stolen emails.

However, among the individuals addressed in the emails are Dr. James Hansen and Dr. Gavin Schmidt of NASA, and Tom Karl of the National Climatic Data Center. Senator Barrasso says these people, and others, work for organizations that are clearly under the jurisdiction of the committee. "Senator Whitehouse has taken a pass" on his responsibilities as subcommittee chair, Barrasso says.

The senator sees a pattern in these incidents. "The Obama Administration is establishing a record of mistreating career public servants who express opposing [scientific or legal] opinions. The Obama Administration promised transparency, openness, and to make decisions based on science, not politics. These issues deserve to be looked into, and the American people have a right to expect Congress to be doing its job."

[Correction: This article originally said Mrs Shawn McGibbon was an employee to the Environmental Protection Agency, when it was in fact the Small Business Administration.  Her name was also misspelled.  PJM regrets the error.]