What is a climate disinformation activist and former Cheney speechwriter doing as #2 at DOE Science?

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Jeffrey Salmon is the Associate Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy. Prior to moving to DOE, from 1991-2001 he was Executive Director of the George C. Marshall Institute, a key actor in the global warming disinformation campaign. In 1998 he participated in the development of a now-notorious oil industry-sponsored plan to wage a campaign against the mainstream science community on global warming. Before that, he was senior speechwriter for Dick Cheney, when Cheney was Secretary of Defense. The Office of Science oversees roughly $4 billion a year in DOE-supported research, including a roughly $140 million climate change research budget. What does Salmon do in this position—for example, on matters of climate change research, assessment, and communication? 

The position of Associate Under Secretary for Science at the U.S. Department of Energy is immediately under that of Raymond L. Orbach, Undersecretary for Science.  Orbach is the first holder of this position, which was established by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, and was sworn in on June 1.
Jeffrey Salmon is also identified as Chief of Staff for the DOE Office of Science The Office of Science manages a set of very large interdisciplinary research programs and 10 national laboratories. 

According to the Marshall Institute web site: “From 1991-2001 Dr. Jeffrey T. Salmon was the Executive Director of the George C. Marshall Institute.  Previously he was senior speechwriter to Secretaries of Defense Dick Cheney and Caspar Weinberger and Senior Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies at the National Defense University.”

Is this another example, as described in a recent four-part series in the Washington Post, of how the Vice President has populated federal agency policy positions with his own loyalists?

The four-part series on the role of the Vice President—“Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency”—published by the Washington Post, June 24-27, 2007, has this in part one:

As constitutional understudy, with no direct authority in the executive branch, Cheney has often worked through surrogates. Many of them owed their jobs to him.

While lawyers fought over the 2000 Florida ballot recount, with the presidential election in the balance, Cheney was already populating a prospective Bush administration….

Close allies found positions as chief and deputy chief of the Office of Management and Budget, deputy national security adviser, undersecretary of state, and assistant or deputy assistant secretary in numerous Cabinet departments.

The DOE web site provides a biographical sheet with the credentials of Under Secretary for Science Orbach. In contrast, it appears to provide no information about Associate Under Secretary and Office of Science Chief of Staff Salmon. Why? What are Salmon’s credentials for overseeing a multi-billion-dollar national research enterprise? Whose idea was it to give him jurisdiction over DOE climate science research?

Some background:

ExxonSecrets briefing sheet on the Marshall Institute:

From the New York Times, September 14, 1993

Scientists Confront Renewed Backlash on Global Warming

By WILLIAM K. STEVENS

As the Clinton Administration prepares to announce in the next few weeks a plan for controlling waste industrial gases that trap heat in the atmosphere, conservatives and industry groups have mounted a renewed assault on the idea that global warming is a serious and possibly catastrophic threat.

In a drum roll of criticism over the last few months they have characterized the thesis of global warming as a “flash in the pan,” “hysteria,” “scare talk” and a ploy by socialists to justify controls on the economy….

In recent months, a number of newspapers, including The Washington Times and The Wall Street Journal, have published articles debunking global warming. In the July issue of Commentary, Jeffrey Salmon, executive director of the George C. Marshall Institute in Washington, stated categorically that there is “no solid scientific evidence to support the theory that the earth is warming because of man-made greenhouse gases.”…

From Cooperative Research—History Commons:

April 1998: Oil and Gas Industry Representatives Draft Plan to Discredit Prevailing Opinion on Global Warming

The Global Climate Science Team drafts a memo outlining a plan to invest millions of dollars in an effort to undermine support for the Kyoto Protocol and discredit the scientific consensus opinion that greenhouse gases are causing the planet to warm. The draft plan, titled “Global Climate Science Communications Action Plan,” concedes that opposition to the protocol is not shared by the public. “There has been little, if any, public resistance or pressure applied to Congress to reject the treaty, except by those ‘inside the Beltway’ with vested interests,” it notes.

A key component of the plan would be to “maximize the impact of scientific views consistent with ours on Congress, the media, and other key audiences.” To do this, they would “recruit a cadre of scientists who share the industry’s views of climate science and to train them in public relations so they can help convince journalists, politicians and the public that the risk of global warming is too uncertain to justify controls on greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide that trap the sun’s heat near Earth,” the New York Times reports. They would look to recruit scientists “who do not have a long history of visibility and/or participation in the climate change debate,” the memo says. According to the plan, “Victory will be achieved when… recognition of uncertainty becomes part of the ‘conventional wisdom.’” One method the institute would employ to measure the plan’s progress would be to count the number of news reports that express uncertainty about the issue of global warming.

People involved in devising the strategy included Jeffrey Salmon of the George C. Marshall Institute; Steven Milloy, who later becomes a FoxNews.com columnist; David Rothbard of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow, which has received $252,000 from ExxonMobil; Myron Ebell of Frontiers of Freedom, also funded with money ($612,000) from the oil giant; and ExxonMobil lobbyist Randy Randol. Representatives of the Exxon Corporation, the Chevron Corporation, and the Southern Company, were also involved.
Sources:
Joe Walker, American Petroleum Institute, Memo to Global Climate Science Team, “Draft Global Climate Science Communications Plan,” April 1998 ;
John H. Cushman, “Industrial Group Plans to Battle Climate Treaty,” New York Times, April 26, 1998;
Chris Mooney, “Some like it Hot,” Mother Jones, May 2005

Also in 1998, Salmon provided this example in the spirit of the plan—attempting to manufacture an exaggerated sense of uncertainty about climate change by drawing selectively on a few favored scientists, instead of using the well-vetted climate science assessments authored by the leading scientists, and elevating the few “skeptic” scientists out of all proportion to the marginal and even discredited standing of their views within the larger scientific community:

Greenhouse Fears vs. Science
Data show the issue is far from ‘settled’
By Jeffrey Salmon
Published by: The Heartland Institute
April 1998

The Clinton administration contends that the science of global warming is “settled,” and dangerous climate change from carbon dioxide produced by burning coal and oil is no longer a theory but a “fact.” Yet the administration continues to spend a great deal of time arguing about the science of global warming.

From a major scientific roundtable on climate change last summer, to Congressional staff briefings, to a series of regional meetings on greenhouse warming run by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the administration is making an all-out effort to convince the country that, according to President Clinton, “if we don’t cut our emissions of greenhouse gases, we will disrupt the global climate.“

The Washington, DC-based George C. Marshall Institute has put those claims under a microscope, performing a detailed analysis of “The Truth About Ten Leading Myths,” a document issued by Dr. Michael MacCracken. MacCracken heads the Office of the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the government agency charged with tracking and funding global warming science.

The Marshall Institute analysis was performed by Drs. Sallie Baliunas and Willie Soon, both widely published scientists. Their report relies exclusively on peer-reviewed scientific literature for its conclusions. Baliunas and Soon conclude that this literature, as well as the report by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which represents the so-called “scientific consensus,” clearly show global warming fears are exaggerated.

According to Baliunas and Soon, if the science of global warming is “settled” at all, it is settled against the administration’s policy and against the recently negotiated Kyoto agreement.

Baliunas and Soon report that the USGCRP document bases much of its argument for man-made climate change on the reliability of computer projections of the Earth’s climate. Sea level rise, melting glaciers, fewer frosts to kill off disease carriers, and a drier Great Plains, are among the misfortunes alleged by the computer models to be a result of greenhouse warming.

But the scientific literature is replete with warnings about taking such computer projections seriously….

First, note Baliunas and Soon, to contend that “the climate is changing” is little more than fear-mongering. Since when has the climate not changed? Climate change is neither good nor bad; it is simply a fact….

The administration contends that the scientific facts prove man-made warming is a global threat. Science supposedly forms the basis of the Kyoto agreement on climate change. But a look beyond the rhetoric to the scientific literature itself makes it clear that greenhouse anxiety has no scientific foundation.

And this:

Nineteen reasons to stop worrying about global warming
By Jeffrey Salmon
Published by: The Heartland Institute
April 2000

The Washington Post ran a story recently with this howler of a headline: “Global Warming is ‘Real,’ Report Finds.” The Post could just as easily have gone with the blockbuster revelation “Earth Revolves Around Sun, Report Finds” and it would have been as newsworthy….

And this:

Marshall Institute Study Challenges “Flawed” Global Warming Assessment

Copyright 2000 U.S. Newswire, Inc
November 1, 2000

The U.S. National Assessment of climate change won’t provide policymakers or the public with useful information because it relies on computer climate models that are incapable of making accurate regional predictions of global warming, according to a study released today by the George C. Marshall Institute.

The study’s author, Dr. David Legates, who is Associate Professor of Climatology in the Center for Climatic Research at the University of Delaware, noted that “these models, which are intended to describe climate only on a very large scale, are currently used by the National Assessment to describe possible scenarios of regional climate change in the U.S.” …

Shortly before leaving the Marshall Institute and being tapped for a position in the Bush-Cheney administration, Salmon propagandized against both the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts (a major federally-supported study by an eminent panel that has been used and praised in reports issued by the National Academy of Sciences), and called on the incoming administration to deal with the global warming issue in the context of Vice President Cheney’s development of the administration’s energy policy:

Time for a Real National Assessment of Climate Change
By Jeffrey Salmon
Marshall Institute
February 15, 2001

As the year 2000 ended, the outgoing Clinton Administration released the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Change Variability and Change for the Nation, a document clearly intended to generate increased fears of global warming and promote policies restricting the use of fossil fuels. To help citizens and policymakers appraise the validity of the Assessment, the Marshall Institute asked Professor David Legates of the University of Delaware, a noted climate-modeler, to prepare a thorough, scholarly analysis of the computer models on which the government conclusions are based….

Let us hope that with a new Administration, Washington will use its resources more wisely. The Bush White House is already taking steps toward more effective energy policy under the direction of Vice President Cheney. The politically sensitive issue of global warming must also be confronted. One useful step would be a three- or four-month moratorium on U.S. participation in international climate change negotiations. During that time, the White House could assemble a high-level task force of scientists, economists, and policy specialists to review the entire issue of human-caused global warming and put it into the context of national energy policy.

Another useful step, one now being contemplated here at the Marshall Institute, would be to call together a panel of experts to review the UN’s science report [i.e., the IPCC Third Assessment Report] on global warming and to provide its own report on the policy implications of the current state of knowledge on climate. As it now stands, the UN’s thousand-plus pages of science is condensed to a 10-page Policymakers Summary by a small team of highly motivated political actors. The results are more spin than science.

An alternative is needed….

That piece could serve as a nice segue for Salmon to transition into the Bush-Cheney global warming and energy policy operation.

 

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