CLIMATE SCIENCE & POLICY WATCH is the flagship program of the Government Accountability Project's Environment & Energy Program, covering safety and health issues in the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries, clean air and water, land use, and toxics. We represent whistleblowers, conduct public interest investigations, and lead Know Your Rights Campaigns – read more here.

CSPW CORE INITIATIVES
1. Promoting Scientific Integrity & Exposing Disinformation and the Denial of Climate Science
2. Watchdogging Federal Government Climate Programs & Legislation
3. Investigating the Role of Big Oil in Thwarting Solutions to the Climate Crisis
4. Know Your Rights Campaigns & Public Interest Investigations
5. Ensuring Climate Change is Included in National Energy Policy & Planning
6. Promoting National Preparedness for Climate Change Impacts

HISTORY OF GAP'S ENVIRONMENT & ENERGY PROGRAM
Know Your Rights & Blow the Whistle

A Case Study of Political Interference, Censorship, and Suppression of Federal Climate Science Under the Bush-Cheney Administration: A Cautionary Tale for the Trump Administration

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As President Trump and his administration attempt to normalize ‘alternative facts,’ they will inevitably try to use similar sophistry to debate climate change. With the new cabinet so blatantly in favor of corporate wealth and expanded oil and gas development, climate change is one reality that is certain to be on the list of inconvenient facts to be denied, deleted from federal websites, and discouraged from being disseminated. Despite unequivocal agreement within the scientific community and evidence conclusively demonstrating a cause and effect relationship between the planet’s warming due to human activity – primarily fossil fuel combustion – and a host of dangerous climate change impacts, we can expect to see heavy-handed censorship of scientific information about how and why the global climate is changing from this climate-change denying administration. President Trump is not the first to employ politically motivated tactics strategically aimed at preventing the federal government from issuing serious warnings regarding a climate-disrupted future – including the evidence behind these warnings embodied in climate science data sets and information – from reaching the public. We can expect, at the very least, many of this new White House’s actions and policies to evolve from or replicate actions taken by appointees during the George W. Bush Administration to edit and suppress the products of federally-supported climate change science and policy research.

Yesterday, The Washington Post announced a White Paper that I researched and authored as a 2016 CSPW Fellow under Harvard University’s Mindich Summer Fellowship. While writing the Paper, it became clear that the orchestrated campaign to keep the American public from grasping the full extent of the climate threat could easily happen again.

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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Whistleblowers | Comments Off on A Case Study of Political Interference, Censorship, and Suppression of Federal Climate Science Under the Bush-Cheney Administration: A Cautionary Tale for the Trump Administration

GAP’s CSPW Launches White Paper Identifying History of Climate Science Suppression Under George W. Bush Administration, Outlining a ‘Cautionary Tale’ of How It Could Be Repeated

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Of significant concern to GAP and frighteningly reminiscent of the George W. Bush Administration, the Trump Administration is staffed by high-level personnel with oil industry connections and climate change denialist views mirroring those of the new President. In response, as just announced in The Washington Post, today GAP officially launched our latest White Paper, entitled: Promoting and Sustaining the National Climate Assessment After a Period of Suppression and Political Influence: A Cautionary Tale.

Below follows the foreword of the Paper, written by GAP Executive Director & CEO Louis Clark:

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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program | Comments Off on GAP’s CSPW Launches White Paper Identifying History of Climate Science Suppression Under George W. Bush Administration, Outlining a ‘Cautionary Tale’ of How It Could Be Repeated

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Career ExxonMobil Executive, “Hates Your Children”

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Our next Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, is fond of letting people know that he is an Eagle Scout, and that he is strongly committed to bettering our youth through his involvement with the Boy Scouts. While a host of dangerous climate change impacts have already begun to cause death and destruction and to exact a toll on human populations across the globe – a fact that Mr. Tillerson has been unwilling to acknowledge – there is no doubt that it is our children, their children, and future generations that will bear the brunt of suffering as a result of our increasingly climate-disrupted world. Some experts are now going so far as to say that a failure to address the climate change problem commensurate with the threat amounts to a form of child abuse. The fossil fuel extraction industries, faced with the knowledge that the very product they sell is the main culprit behind the destabilization of our global climate system, have a moral obligation to find ways to drastically reduce carbon emissions to Earth’s atmosphere so as not to leave behind a climate system inhospitable to human life. The oil, gas, and coal industries have shirked this moral imperative and managed to shake off any major legal imperatives formulated by elected officials over the years. In 2012, a few activist groups launched a campaign and put together a TV ad called “Exxon Hates Your Children.” The idea was to let the American people know that Rex Tillerson, as a lifetime employee and CEO of the ExxonMobil Corporation from 2006 to 2016, has taken little to no action to reduce Exxon’s carbon burden, instead working actively to defeat climate legislation in Congress and to maximize Exxon’s oil and gas extraction activities and profit at the expense of Earth’s climate system.

In short, Exxon has put profit over people. Mr. Tillerson should, at the very least, own up to his role in actively compromising, perhaps even destroying, the futures of the very youth – including the Boy Scouts – he claims to champion so strongly.

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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity | Comments Off on Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Career ExxonMobil Executive, “Hates Your Children”

The Threat of Offshore Oil Spills: An Unheeded Cautionary Tale

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Source: The Telegraph. Available at: http://bit.ly/2jIgVJZ

When an oil production platform caught fire in the Gulf of Mexico near the Louisiana coast last week, a collective gasp would have been appropriate – from the residents of coastal Louisiana, who are no strangers to offshore oil rig disasters, from the fossil fuel industry, which is priming itself for a golden age under the incoming Trump Administration, and from the American public, whose oil reliance remains unchecked despite increasing awareness of both the massive downside of fossil fuel use and the increasing availability of clean, renewable energy sources.

If anyone was holding his or her breath, he or she soon exhaled. The rig fire was extinguished, no lives lost, no oil reported spilled. The people of the Gulf Coast, the oil industry, and the environment dodged a bullet, because the woefully inadequate, even counterproductive cleanup measures that were in place during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster have not been improved since that catastrophe killed eleven rig workers and ravaged human health and the environment throughout the region.

As GAP’s ongoing investigation into the Gulf Disaster has exposed, the damage from that disaster, incidentally, has still not been fully remediated; the effects are being felt nearly seven years after the incident. Worse still, the industry continues to argue that significant changes are not necessary.
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Energy, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, Uncategorized | Comments Off on The Threat of Offshore Oil Spills: An Unheeded Cautionary Tale

Why Are 21 Kids Suing the Federal Government, and Why Does It Matter?

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Source: Our Children’s Trust

Last year, on August 12, 2015, a group of courageous millennials filed suit against President Barack Obama and members of his cabinet for failing to adequately address the climate change problem commensurate with the threat, despite the fact that we have known for decades that human-caused global warming has been worsening over time as atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases have continued to rise. The lawsuit, Juliana et al v. U.S. et al and known in social media as #YouthvGov, petitions the court to order the federal government to develop and implement a national plan that would bring down atmospheric carbon dioxide levels to a level deemed “safe” by climate scientists – 350 parts per million (ppm) – by the year 2100. This federal lawsuit and a batch of similar suits filed in U.S. states, and even in other countries, are being overseen and coordinated by a group of dedicated attorneys and experts at Our Children’s Trust (OCT), with the stated mission “to protect Earth’s atmosphere and natural systems for present and future generations.” Julia Olson, OCT’s founder and executive director, and the Lead Attorney for the federal suit, has recently been profiled by CNN: “Meet the mom litigating the ‘biggest case on the planet.’”

Meet the plaintiffs, ages 9 to 20: Kelsey, Xiuhtezcatl, Alexander, Jacob, Zealand, Avery, Sahara, Kiran, Tia, Isaac, Miko, Hazel, Sophie, Jaime, Journey, Victoria, Nathaniel, Aji, Levi, Jayden, and Nicholas. They are from all over the United States, they are worried about their future in a climate-disrupted world, they went to court as a last resort to get their country to do right by them, and they mean business. While none of them are old enough to rent a car or buy a six-pack of beer, each of them demonstrates a rare brand of wisdom, capability, maturity, and strength of character. Truth be told, these kids are putting grownups to shame. The adults in America have fallen down on the job of passing a livable Earth on to future generations.

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Posted in Activism, Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, National Security, Obama Administration, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Why Are 21 Kids Suing the Federal Government, and Why Does It Matter?

ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (2009-2016) – Part Three (B): 2010

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From left, ExxonMobil Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson, Chevron Chairman and CEO John Watson and ConocoPhillips CEO James Mulva are sworn in before a June 15, 2010 Congressional hearing on the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster. SOURCE: Associated Press

This latest installment of our series addressing how the ExxonMobil Corporation has been engaged in a multi-decadal, systematic campaign of disinformation and deception regarding the climate change threat covers the year 2010 alone, so significant a year it was. Subsequent posts will cover years 2011 to the present (See Part One (1993-2000); Part Two (2000-2008); and Part Three(A) (2009)). These analytic pieces are designed to compare what this multinational fossil fuel corporation has been saying to its investors about the risks it faces as a result of global climate change to what was publicly known and readily knowable at the time, given the state of climate science and major policy developments relevant to the climate threat. We assess statements made in the corporation’s annual 10-K filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), year by year. 10-K reports were chosen for review because they offer one important way shareholders, investors, and financial analysts assess the assets and appraise factors that could inflate or deflate stock prices. We compare and contrast what this corporation says publicly about what it knows regarding climate change as a risk factor, and what it has been discovered to have known (or reasonably should have known) internally; we also look at actions and statements made by the CEO and upper management over time.

The two-part question we have put significant effort into answering is: What has ExxonMobil known about climate change that it does not want its own investors (and the public) to know, and what steps has it taken over the years to keep us from knowing it?
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, International Climate Policy, Obama Administration, Obama Climate Plan, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, Uncategorized | Comments Off on ExxonMobil and Climate Change: A Story of Denial, Delay, and Delusion, Told in Forms 10-K (2009-2016) – Part Three (B): 2010

In Memory of Rick Piltz, Founder of GAP’s Climate Science & Policy Watch

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rp-xl-white-houseTwo years ago today, GAP’s Climate Science Watch founder and Bush Administration whistleblower, Rick Piltz, passed away. Rick lived a fascinating life of social change activism and truth-telling, and devoted much of his time during his final days to ensuring his friends and followers could carry on his mission of challenging both those who deny that human activity is the leading cause of climate change and government officials responsible for developing and implementing environmentally insidious energy policies. Above all else, he wanted his nation to demonstrate leadership in dramatically curtailing the burning of fossil fuels and ameliorating other harmful practices that continue to take place.
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Posted in Activism, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Climate Science Watch Update, General, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Obama Administration, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity, U.S. Global Change Research Program, Uncategorized | Comments Off on In Memory of Rick Piltz, Founder of GAP’s Climate Science & Policy Watch

Notes from Underground – Where the Pipeline Ends: How the Dakota Access Pipeline Could – Or Could Not – Happen Again

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Source: “Where the Sidewalk Ends” by Shel Silverstein, adapted by Adam Arnold.

The DC Court of Appeals has given the go ahead for construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which opponents say will threaten the environment, human health, and sites sacred to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. Despite the setback, there remains hope that the tide is turning against construction of new pipelines.
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Mitigation, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Watch, Energy, General, Global Warming Denial Machine, Obama Climate Plan | Comments Off on Notes from Underground – Where the Pipeline Ends: How the Dakota Access Pipeline Could – Or Could Not – Happen Again

“25 and Still Counting” – Congressional Committee Chair Brags About Issuing Subpoena After Subpoena. Is This Vigorous Oversight, or an Abuse of Power?

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Congressional hearing witness, Professor Ronald Rotunda   Source:  http://bit.ly/2d3HH9i

Last week we expressed concerns we share with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and others that, as Chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (SST), Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) is on a misguided, overzealous mission to discredit a set of well-established non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and state attorneys general (AGs) who are investigating the Exxon Mobil Corporation for alleged fraud. Our initial concerns remain after observing last week’s full committee hearing to address possible charges of contempt of Congress that may be filed against eight NGOs and two state AGs for refusing to comply with subpoenas Smith unilaterally issued in July. If Chairman Smith decides to seek and is eventually granted the ability to file “inherent contempt” charges (which, technically, can lead to jail time), what kind of precedent would that set, and what would be the lasting consequences for those who are working in the best interests of the public by holding corporations accountable?
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Obama Administration, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity | Comments Off on “25 and Still Counting” – Congressional Committee Chair Brags About Issuing Subpoena After Subpoena. Is This Vigorous Oversight, or an Abuse of Power?

Federalism, the First Amendment, and Facts vs. Fiction on Climate Change All on Trial Tomorrow at Congressional Hearing

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Source: Editorial Cartoon by John Branch, North America Syndicate, published in the San Antonio Express (Rep. Smith’s congressional district’s local newspaper) on May 26, 2013.  http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoon/display.cfm/122771/

News cameras and long lines of people waiting to enter a packed hearing room are not the stuff of normal business carried out by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology (House SST), which has a relatively sleepy (but nevertheless important) list of topics under its jurisdiction. Its primary function – reauthorizing (not appropriating) funding and providing general oversight for a host of scientific research and technology development programs across a dozen or so federal agencies – generally attracts the interest of journalists writing for highly specialized newsletters, not major broadcasters. But tomorrow’s 10:00 a.m. hearing in 2318 Rayburn House Office Building promises to further elevate the Committee’s profile, and that of its Chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX). Smith has managed to receive more ink in the press than just about any of his predecessors in this role, primarily over his controversial attitudes toward science and technology in general, and climate change in particular. Tomorrow, he is hoping to lay the groundwork for filing a slew of “contempt of Congress” charges that are bogus at best and dangerous at worst.
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Posted in Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation, Attacks on Climate Science and Scientists, Climate Change Education and Communication, Climate Change Preparedness, Climate Litigation, Climate Science Censorship, Climate Science Watch, Congress: Legislation and Oversight, Global Climate Disruption and Impacts, Global Warming Denial Machine, Science Communication, Science-Policy Interaction, Scientific Integrity | Comments Off on Federalism, the First Amendment, and Facts vs. Fiction on Climate Change All on Trial Tomorrow at Congressional Hearing