Jason Burnett confirms that Cheney’s office and CEQ censored CDC director Gerberding’s testimony


The Associated Press reported on July 8 that former EPA deputy associate administrator Jason Burnett has confirmed something we had suggested earlier: that the White House Council on Environmental Quality, acting as an agent of Vice President Cheney, directed the censorship of the October 2007 testimony of Centers for Disease Control director Julie Gerberding linking climate change to adverse public health impacts. This was a case of the ongoing White House collusion with the global warming disinformation campaign to play down adverse impacts of climate change on public health and welfare, in order to continue to block regulation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Excerpt from the AP wire service story (full text here and here):

Cheney reportedly wanted cuts in climate testimony


WASHINGTON (AP)—Vice President Dick Cheney’s office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony on the public health consequences of climate change, fearing the presentation by a leading health official might make it harder to avoid regulating greenhouse gases, a former EPA officials maintains.

When six pages were cut from testimony on climate change and public health by the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last October, the White House insisted the changes were made because of reservations raised by White House advisers about the accuracy of the science.

But Jason K. Burnett, until last month the senior adviser on climate change to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson, says that Cheney’s office was deeply involved in getting nearly half of the CDC’s original draft testimony removed.

“The Council on Environmental Quality and the office of the vice president were seeking deletions to the CDC testimony (concerning) … any discussions of the human health consequences of climate change,” Burnett has told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee….

Thanks to Jason Burnett for blowing the whistle on yet another instance of egregious action by the current administration to destroy the integrity of the relationship between scientific assessment, government communication with the public, and policymaking.

In an April 12 post, I wrote:

When the political manipulation of CDC testimony was made public last October and provoked a highly critical response on the Hill, in particular from Senate Environment Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA), no one in the administration would tell the truth by identifying the locus of the decision to remove all substantive text from Gerberding’s testimony….

My experience was that, on climate science-related communications to the Hill, the OMB clearance would be held up until the White House Council on Environmental Quality had finally given its approval, pursuant to whatever revisions CEQ called for being addressed to their satisfaction.  Congressional interrogators and the media didn’t point the finger directly at CEQ and its Director James Connaughton in the Gerberding case. But when climate science collides with climate policy under this administration, time and again we have seen that CEQ calls the shots on behalf of Bush and Cheney. I expect that was the case with the censored Gerberding testimony.

Any decision by CEQ to call on OMB to redact Gerberding’s testimony would be highly unlikely to appear in the documentary record, at least in a form retrievable via Congressional inquiry or Freedom of Information Act request. Such a demand may well have been conveyed via oral communication with no paper trail at all. Former CEQ Chief of Staff Phil Cooney made careless errors in leaving a paper trail of his global warming disinformation activities. Administration officials have become more secretive about such things.

On October 24, 2007, we posted a leaked copy of the testimony as drafted by Dr. Gerberding before all the pages with substantive material about the human health consequences of global climate disruption were deleted prior to Gerberding’s appearance before the Senate Envoronment Committee.

In our April 12 post, we noted that, at an April 9 House committee hearing, witness Howard Frumkin of the federal Centers for Disease Control had submitted written testimony on health effects of climate change that closely paralleled the text the White House had redacted from CDC director Gerberding’s Senate testimony in October 2007.

—Post by Rick Piltz, returned from a travel break. 

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