NOAA Says HELL NO To Congressional Subpoena On Climate Data And Emails


Photo from NBC News

“Because the confidentiality of these communications among scientists is essential to frank discourse among scientists, those documents were not provided to the Committee,” NOAA said in a statement. “It is the end product of exchanges between scientists – the detailed publication of scientific work and the data that underpins the authors’ findings– that are key to understanding the conclusions reached.” – NOAA on WHY they refused to comply with a congressional subpoena.

Back in June, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) published the results of a study that said the apparent trend of upward temperatures, and thus climate change, resulted from a data error.  The study, published in Science, more or less reported that with the data sets corrected, no warming shows for the last ten years or so.


Well, congressional Republicans being the busy body sorts, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, sent the people over at NOAA – government employees, technically – a subpoena on October 13 requesting to see data and emails related to the data that went into that study.  After all, we’re paying for this.  NOAA’s answer: NO, NOT EVEN, and HELL NO, YOU CLIMATE DENIER.  (See the quote at the top of this post.)  How the personnel employed by the people of the United States come to the conclusions that we are or are not responsible for any escalation or detraction of the weather is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS.

Uh, since when is the scientific method proprietary information?  And, really, aren’t peer reviewed scientific studies supposed to be allowed to be replicated to prove their veracity?  Oh, wait, I don’t have a Ph.D.  I’m not supposed to notice that.

Rep. Smith is not amused (and rightly so if the study itself can’t be replicated to prove how accurate – or wrong – the darn thing is).  He responded:

“Congress cannot do its job when agencies openly defy Congress and refuse to turn over information,” Smith said in an emailed statement. “When an agency decides to alter the way it has analyzed historical temperature data for the past few decades, it’s crucial to understand on what basis those decisions were made. This action has broad national and policy implications.”

Of course it does…which is, of course, why NOAA can’t tell the world how they drew the conclusion from the original data set that the planet was warming at all.  Which it isn’t and hasn’t been for quite some time, but that’s beside the point.

This is not the first time Rep. Smith, NOAA, and the Democratic cover dogs on the Science Committee have gone at it.  Since his ascension to the chair of that committee, Smith has been trying to get at the correspondence between the scientists themselves.  They complain quite a bit about receiving Freedom of Information Act requests for the “contents of their inboxes.”  (Psst: Rep. Smith.  The government owns the routers.  It’s all there.)  Democrats on the Science committee have characterized Rep. Smith’s efforts to get to the truth as “a fishing expedition.”  According to Inside Climate News, Benjamin Santer of the National Academy of Sciences upgraded it to “trawling” with some other nasty words:

“What Mr. Smith does not seem to understand is that’s how science operates,” said Santer, who said he was speaking for himself and not on behalf of any organization. “Our understanding of datasets changes over time as researchers identify errors…Mr. Smith may not like those findings, but they’re a reality. They’re a fact of life.”

Not only does it seem that Rep. Smith understands how science operates, he also quite well understands how HUMANS operate, otherwise he wouldn’t be asking for correspondence that could well demonstrate purposeful fraud.

It’s not like the people in science have sterling reputations in the integrity department.  Watson and Crick stole the DNA structure from Rosilind Franklin, and on the Nobel Prize she didn’t get credit due to being dead.  And that’s just ONE example.

For whatever reason, the people who put together the climate models and publicized the results that told us we humans were to blame for making the earth hotter just don’t want Congress snooping through their emails.  They claim it is irrelevant.

“When you have the data, there’s no need to look at a scientist’s email correspondence,” [Lauren] Kurtz [of the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund] said. Her organization provides legal support for climate scientists who face harassment and lawsuits. “A lot of what science is is batting around ideas. You could suggest something kind of zany in an email…and to have it taken out of context publicly is very disturbing.”

Why would climate scientists need a legal defense fund if what they communicate about is just bouncing ideas around?  Do these people really think congresscritters many of whom are lawyers (Rep. Smith is one), physicians, and successful business people are too stupid to figure out what is brainstorming and what isn’t?

This episode of “I want to see the emails” isn’t over.  Not when, as Rep. Smith says, NOAA has yet to present a valid legal argument as to why the communications should be withheld.   “The Committee intends to use all tools at its disposal to undertake its Constitutionally-mandated oversight responsibilities,” he said in an email.  Which, according to the courts, is legally viable as a form of communication.

For more caterwauling from Congressional Democrats, visit The Washington Post.

H/T –

About the Author

Cultural Limits
A resident of Flyover Country, Cultural Limits is a rare creature in American Conservatism - committed to not just small government, Christianity and traditional social roles, but non-profits and high arts and culture. Watching politics, observing human behavior and writing are all long-time interests. In her other life, CL writes romance novels under her nom de plume, Patricia Holden (@PatriciaHoldenAuthor on Facebook), and crochets like a mad woman (designs can be found on Facebook @BohemianFlairCrochet and on Pinterest on the Bohemian Flair Crochet board). In religion, CL is Catholic; in work, the jill of all trades when it comes to fundraising software manipulation and event planning; in play, a classically trained soprano and proud citizen of Cardinal Nation, although, during hockey season, Bleeds Blue. She lives in the Mid-Mississippi River Valley with family and two cute and charming tyrants...make that toy dogs.