Cooney, Hansen, and Connaughton testify before House Oversight Committee


The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), will hold a hearing on Monday, March 19, “To Examine Allegations of Political Interference with Government Climate Change Science (Part II).”  White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair James Connaughton is scheduled to testify, along with former CEQ Chief of Staff Phil Cooney, who resigned in June 2005.  Cooney, who until now has been entirely reticent about speaking publicly on his own behalf, will be making his first, very likely reluctant, Congressional appearance.  Also appearing will be leading federal climate scientist Jim Hansen, along the former staffer in the NASA public affairs office who foolishly tried to silence him(with spectacular lack of success).

An overview of the hearing, witness testimony, chairman’s statement, and an archived video are posted on the committee web site here.

The hearing will be held on Monday, March 19, 2007, 10:00 a.m., in 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

It is our understanding that the following witnesses will testify:
James Connaughton, Chair, White House Council on Environmental Quality
Philip Cooney, ExxonMobil, former Chief of Staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
James Hansen, Director, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies
George Deutsch, former NASA public affairs office staffer
Roy Spencer, Univeristy of Alabama climate scientist

E&ENews PM reported on March 15:

…The hearing comes after committee leaders resolved a long dispute with the administration over the lawmakers’ requests for documents they say show Cooney and his former colleagues at the White House Council on Environmental Quality edited scientific reports on global warming to emphasize uncertainty.

Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and ranking member Tom Davis (R-Va.) negotiated an agreement with CEQ last month to release one box of documents per week to the panel, with the goal of releasing all requested information by March 30 (E&E Daily, Jan. 31).

The committee will also hear from Jim Hansen, who has called for public affairs ofices at federal science agencies to be staffed by non-political professionals.  Hansen said recently: “What would our Founding Fathers think of the Offices of Propaganda that our executive branch has installed in these agencies?”  E&E News PM reports:

Lawmakers will also hear from Hansen, head of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, who made headlines last year when he accused political appointees at NASA of preventing him from speaking to the media about climate research.

The resulting controversy sparked reports of scientific suppression at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Bureau of Land Management and other federal agencies. It also led to the firing of former NASA political appointee George Deutsch, the news office aide who issued the gag order against Hansen (Greenwire, June 12, 2006).

Deutsch and University of Alabama climatologist Roy Spencer, who is affiliated with several industry-funded think tanks that question the science behind global warming, round out the witness list for next week’s House hearing.

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