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Changing the Data to Get Climate Change

The science is clear. For nearly two decades, the satellites that measure global temperature have shown no discernible increase. This fact has been very inconvenient to the Obama administration that wants to promote an extreme climate change agenda at an international meeting next month in Paris.

More conveniently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently published a study in the journal Science that made “adjustments” to global temperature data. The study was conducted in order to refute the notion that there has been any pause in global warming.

The NOAA study claimed to use “new methods” of data collection that changed historical temperatures from both land and oceans. This is beyond suspicious. Just in time for this administration’s final carbon emission regulations and international climate negotiations, NOAA changed the way it has analyzed data for decades to get results that support the president’s agenda.

As Chairman of the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology with oversight jurisdiction of NOAA, I sent a letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan requesting more information about the agency’s decision to adjust temperature data. The agency ignored multiple inquiries and refused to provide communications among NOAA employees, claiming they were all confidential. Because of NOAA’s obstruction of legitimate Congressional oversight, I issued a subpoena for these documents.

The American people deserve an explanation for why NOAA altered long-held scientific data. When NOAA concocts data to get the politically correct results they want and then refuses to reveal how those decisions were made, that discredits their entire agenda.

Even the United Nations’ (U.N.) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change disagrees with NOAA’s new study. The IPCC reiterated its findings in its most recent Assessment Report, noting that, “the rate of warming over the past 15 years, which begins with a strong El Niño, is smaller than the rate calculated since 1951.” With the U.N. climate change conference around the corner, how should the American people feel about the federal government’s skewing the data?

At the conference, world governments are expected to negotiate far-reaching climate change regulations. The president already has pledged to cut U.S. carbon emissions by 28 percent by 2025. In order to meet this goal, the president intends to bypass Congress and the American people to enact costly regulations. Basing job-killing regulations on suspicious science is bad policy and being dishonest with the American people.

Congress’ ability to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch is rooted in the Constitution. It is a critical component of our government’s system of checks and balances. In this case, NOAA’s efforts to change historical temperature data deserve serious scrutiny.

To understand how NOAA made these politically-motivated decisions, the Committee subpoenaed communications among federal employees working directly on this subject. Personal emails of scientists are not the subject of this subpoena. But this Committee is legally entitled to review communications of federal employees to understand a suspect decision that has broad policy implications.

Apparently NOAA manipulated the way data is analyzed to support a political agenda. Now the agency claims that the discussions of  federal employees are off-limits to anyone who questions their motives. NOAA’s failure to provide any legal basis for the lack of compliance with a congressional subpoena leads to the obvious conclusion that they must be hiding something.

American citizens are tired of “trust me” pseudo-science. They are tired of research conducted behind closed doors where they only see pre-ordained conclusions, not the facts. The data should be publicly available and the process transparent.

The House Science Committee intends to use every means available to fulfill its responsibilities to ensure any changes to historical temperature data are grounded in sound science, not an extreme environmental agenda. It’s always easy to prove climate change when the Obama administration changes the data until they get the results they want.

Congressman Smith represents the 21st district of Texas and chairs the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.

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