Waxman letter to Upton on Pat Michaels’s statements about funding sources

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman sent a letter to Chairman Fred Upton calling on Upton to join with him in requesting clarification from Dr. Patrick Michaels, on whether Michaels provided misleading information to the committee about the sources of his funding and his ties to industries opposed to regulation of greenhouse gases.

Waxman, in a January 24 letter, sought information about the amount of funding Michaels receives from industry sources and a complete accounting of all sources of his financial support. Michaels, Senior Fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute, appeared before the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment on February 12, 2009 at a hearing on “The Climate Crisis.”

Full text of the letter:

Committee on Energy and Commerce

Rep. Henry A. Waxman, Ranking Member

January 24, 2011

The Honorable Fred Upton

Chairman

Committee on Energy and Commerce

2125 Rayburn House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Upton:

            On February 12, 2009, the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing on “The Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats.”  At that hearing, Dr. Patrick Michaels of the Cato Institute testified that widely accepted scientific data had “overestimated” global warming and that regulation enacted in response to that data could have “a very counterproductive effect.”[1]  Among the scientists who testified before this Committee on the issue of climate change in the last Congress, Dr. Michaels was the only one to dismiss the need to act on climate change. 

            Dr. Michaels is, of course, entitled to his views.  I am writing you about his testimony because it now appears that in both the materials he initially submitted to the Committee and in response to questions for the record submitted by a Committee member after the hearing, Dr. Michaels may have provided misleading information about the sources of his funding and his ties to industries opposed to regulation of emissions responsible for climate change. 

            The curriculum vitae that Dr. Michaels submitted with his written testimony is lengthy, listing over one hundred publications and speaking engagements before audiences ranging from the United States Congress to academic institutions to local Rotary Clubs and high school students.[2]  It also includes a section titled “Financial Support (Over $10,000).”  Of the nearly $4.2 million in support listed on this document, only 3% is attributed to energy sector industry sources.  As described in the CV submitted to this Committee, almost all of Dr. Michael’s financial support comes from academic and governmental sources.

            Information publicly available at the time of Dr. Michaels’s testimony suggested that Dr. Michaels did significant work for and received substantial financial support from energy producers and transmitters, even though that work and support did not appear in the materials he submitted to the Committee.  After the hearing, Rep. Peter Welch submitted several questions for the record to Dr. Michaels asking for specific details about the nature of the work Dr. Michaels did for and the amount of funding he received from several entities omitted from his CV.  In particular, he asked about New Hope Environmental Services, which was described by Dr. Michaels in litigation as his sole source of income outside of modest speaking fees; Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) and Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, Inc., which paid Dr. Michaels $100,000 and $50,000 respectively, according to information Dr. Michaels provided in the course of litigation; and the Heartland Institute, an industry-funded think tank that published a journal on which Dr. Michaels served as contributing editor.[3] 

            In response to Rep. Welch’s detailed questions, Dr. Michaels provided a vague response that did not answer any of Rep. Welch’s specific questions.[4]  In addition, Dr. Michaels provided a revised CV, which added publications for the years 2008 and 2009 but made no additions to the section entitled “Financial Support (Over $10,000).”  His revised CV did not mention any association with New Hope Environmental Services, IREA, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, or the Heartland Institute.[5]

            On January 7, 2011, Politico reported a statement from Dr. Michaels that calls into question the accuracy of Dr. Michaels’s filings with the Committee.  In its “Morning Energy” column, Politico described a CNN appearance by Dr. Michaels in which he gave “40%” as his estimate of how much of his funding comes from the petroleum industry.[6]  The CNN interview cited by Politico is available online.[7]  

            It is difficult to reconcile what Dr. Michaels reported to the Committee on his CV with the estimate of his industry funding reported by Politico.  If the Politico story is accurate, far more than the 3% of Dr. Michaels’s funding reported to the Committee comes from industry sources.  For this reason, I ask that you join me in asking Dr. Michaels to meet with Committee staff to clarify the amount of funding he receives from industry sources and to provide a complete accounting of all sources of his financial support.  It would be a serious matter if Dr. Michaels misled the Committee about his financial backers and evaded Rep. Welch’s attempt to seek clarification.

            I hope you will agree that all witnesses need to provide accurate disclosures to the Committee and will work with me in resolving the issues raised by Dr. Michaels’s testimony and the recent Politico article. 

Sincerely,

Henry A. Waxman

Ranking Member


[1] House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Testimony of Dr. Patrick Michaels, Hearings on the Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats, 111th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2009).

[2] House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Curriculum Vitae submitted with Testimony of Dr. Patrick Michaels, Hearings on the Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats, 111th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2009) (attached as Document 1).

[3] House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Questions for the Record submitted by Rep. Peter Welch, Hearings on the Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats, 111th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2009) (attached as Document 2).

[4] House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Response of Dr. Patrick Michaels to Questions for the Record, Hearings on the Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats, 111th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2009) (attached as Document 3).

[5] House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, Revised Curriculum Vitae submitted by Dr. Patrick Michaels with Response to Questions for the Record, Hearings on the Climate Crisis:  National Security, Public Health, and Economic Threats, 111th Cong. (Feb. 12, 2009) (attached as Document 4).

[6] Morning Energy:  Lightening Round, Politico (online at http://dyn.politico.com/members/forums/thread.cfm?catid=22&subcatid=76&t...) (accessed January 21, 2011).

[7] GPS, CNN (Aug. 15, 2010) (online at http://bit.ly/i3tFDW) (accessed January 21, 2011).

Related Documents: 

CV of Patrick Michaels, Feb 12, 2009.  Download

Questions for the Record for Patrick J. Michaels, Rep. Welch, Feb 12, 2009.  Download

Patrick Michaels's Response to Rep. Inslee.  Download

Revised CV of Patrick Michaels.  Download

Earlier posts:

Ben Santer debunks Pat Michaels

Cooler Heads Coalition serves up tired denialist fare at Hill “Climategate” lunch briefing

Scientists return fire at CEI and Pat Michaels for bogus charges on global temperature data record

Stephen Schneider comments on the CEI and Pat Michaels petition on the global warming data record

Climate contrarian Pat Michaels refused to disclose funding in Vermont court case

Pat Michaels, Virginia “State Climatologist”? A critical perspective on the issues

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