In a bipartisan June 20 letter to White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Ranking Member Tom Davis (R-VA) set a firm deadline of June 27 for the White House to provide climate change documents that were requested eleven months ago. Despite numerous discussions and requests, CEQ has withheld more than 500 documents from the Committee. What do these documents contain? Who is responsible for CEQ’s stonewalling?
The text of the letter is below.
We want to know what these documents withheld by the White House might reveal about the connection between CEQ operatives and the office of the Vice-President in running the administration’s global warming operation. In addition, we want to know what the documents might show about the connection between CEQ and industry-funded global warming disinformation campaign groups.
We hope this bipartisan effort to pry the documents loose from will prove successful, but we suspect that they have been withheld this long already because CEQ has consulted with Vice-President Cheney’s office on this matter and has been directed to stonewall. Will CEQ turn over the documents? Or will this end up like the effort by Congress to obtain information on the Cheney energy task force?
The main text of the Waxman-Davis letter reads as follows:
Mr. James L. Connaughton Chairman
Council on Environmental Quality
722 Jackson Place, NW Washington, DC 20503
Dear Mr. Chairman:
In July 2006, the Committee requested documents from the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) regarding its activities on climate change. This request was prompted by reports in the press that CEQ had edited climate change documents and managed the press statements of government climate scientists in order to further a political agenda. Eleven months later, the Committee still has not received all of the requested documents. We are writing to establish a firm deadline for the completion of CEQ’s document production.
In February, CEQ committed to completing the document production by April 15, 2007. However, by CEQ’s own admission, CEQ continues to withhold some 513 responsive documents from the Committee. On May 10, we met with you to discuss these documents. We explained that CEQ had two options for each of the documents: provide the document to the Committee or assert executive privilege with respect to the document. As an accommodation, we offered to have Committee staff review the documents in order to determine whether they were relevant to the Committee’s investigation.
Despite numerous conversations between our staffs, CEQ still has not provided or claimed executive privilege with respect to any of these documents. Moreover, CEQ has been unwilling to commit to any timetable for producing the documents. Nor has it taken advantage of the offer for a staff review.
Eleven months should be sufficient time to respond to the Committee’s request. The Committee will provide CEQ with one additional week, until June 27, 2007, to produce the documents, provide the documents for staff review, or claim executive privilege. If CEQ has not produced the documents, provided the documents for review, or asserted executive privilege by that time, the Committee will have no option but to issue a subpoena for the documents, which is a step we would like to avoid….
Henry A. Waxman
Ranking Minority Member