Amid Concerns of Political Interference into Climate Research by New Trump Admin Appointees, Shaheen Calls on NOAA to Affirm Agency’s Scientific Integrity & IndependenceNovember 02, 2020
**Shaheen calls on NOAA to uphold its Scientific Integrity Policy as the Trump administration installs several new political appointees at NOAA – including Dr. David Legates, a well-known climate change denier**
(Washington, DC) – Amid concerns of political interference into the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) climate research and data, U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), the Vice Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that funds NOAA, sent a letter today to acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator Dr. Neil Jacobs calling on the agency to confirm that it will uphold its Scientific Integrity Policy.
Over the last few months, the Trump administration has installed several new political appointees at NOAA, including Dr. David Legates - a well-known climate change denier - as a Senior Advisor. This has led to fears of political interference into the critical scientific research and data that NOAA performs and produces on behalf of the American people. Shaheen wrote, “As one the Nation’s preeminent scientific agencies, it is imperative that NOAA scientists and staff can present research and results absent political interference or censorship.”
Shaheen expressed her concern with the removal of Craig McLean, NOAA’s former Acting Chief Scientist, from his role after he sent a message requesting that the new political appointees acknowledge the agency’s Scientific Integrity Policy, which prohibits manipulating research or presenting ideologically driven findings. She continued, “I am also concerned that the installation of several new political appointees, including a well-known climate denier, could politicize and stifle NOAA’s scientific research, particularly related to climate change. As the agency’s leader, you have critical role in ensuring that scientific research and communication is allowed to flourish unimpeded.”
In her role as the Vice Chair of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, Shaheen has worked across the aisle to ensure NOAA receives sufficient funding to perform its important scientific missions, including $169.5 million for climate research as part of the fiscal year 2020 omnibus. With reports revealing that Chief of Staff Noble has “pushed to install a new layer of scrutiny on grants that NOAA awards for climate research,” Shaheen also requested additional information on this effort, as well as information on the roles recent political appointees Dr. Ryan Maue, NOAA’s new Chief Scientist and Senior Advisor Dr. Legates are playing in preparing the next National Climate Assessment.
The full text of the letter can be downloaded here.
This is not the first time the administration has politicized the historically non-partisan agency. Last year, the Trump administration doctored an official NOAA map, that Hurricane Dorian would impact Alabama. There were also reports that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened the careers of those who contradicted the President’s unsubstantiated claims on Hurricane Dorian’s projection. In response to a NOAA statement that later reprimanded National Weather Service (NWS) experts in the Birmingham Weather Forecast Office (WFO) for communicating to the public that Hurricane Dorian would not impact Alabama – effectively countering the President’s unsubstantiated claims – Shaheen called on the Commerce Department’s Inspector General to investigate whether NOAA’s statement violated NOAA’s Administrative Order on Scientific Integrity or other relevant statutes.
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