CSPW is currently under the leadership of GAP’s Chief of Staff, Michael Termini. In 2015, Michael led the efforts of a team of about a dozen expert contributors to advance the goals of CSPW, the majority of whom had been actively involved with Rick Piltz’s Climate Science Watch. Termini had worked closely with Piltz for almost eight years in the strategic development and implementation of CSW and became closely familiar with the vision Piltz had set forth for the continuation of CSW before he passed away in October 2014.
Prior to joining GAP in 2007, Michael worked at New York-based non-profit Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which combated pressing issues in the region, such as the prevention of the dumping of toxic materials into the Long Island Sound and fighting the development of a corporate initiative risking waste and significant threats to the environment known as Broadwater – a first-of-its-kind liquefied natural gas facility proposed by Shell Oil and TransCanada. Termini also explored international environmental issues such as climate change, cap-and-trade and the Kyoto Protocol at the United Nations while working in the Global Policy Department of the United Nations Association of the USA.
Michael graduated Summa Cum Laude from Kent Law School at the University of Kent in Canterbury, England, with a dual LL.M. Master of Laws degree in International Law and International Relations, and Magna Cum Laude from the State University of New York at New Paltz. Michael has been presented numerous awards, including a town board commendation for his civil rights victory defending worker rights in Woodstock, NY; the Spirit Award for his work in support of the rights to dignity and to life in the medical sector at Vassar Brothers Medical Center; and the Achievement Prize by the Chair of the Board of Examiners of Kent Law School for the achievement of Kent’s highest scholastic honor. Michael also authored Exceptionalism and the George W. Bush Presidency: A New Extreme Taken at the Expense of the International Rule of Law (VDM Verlag Publishing, 2009), available at Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com.
CSPW’s Senior Climate Policy Analyst Anne Polansky has more than 30 years of experience in public policies relating to energy and the environment, with a strong focus on climate change and renewable energy. She has served as an independent consultant and held management positions in private industry, not-for-profit organizations, and the US Congress. For much of the 1990s, Anne directed the Policy and Governmental Affairs arm of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) where she advocated and supported federal and state energy policies favorable to renewable energy. Before moving to SEIA she staffed the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology where she facilitated development and passage into law of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the Oil Pollution Act, and amendments to the Clean Air Act. Polansky Consulting, established in 1998, has provided a variety of services to clients including the Organization for Tropical Studies, the International Energy Administration, the Rocky Mountain Institute, Environ International Corporation, the Renewable Energy Policy Project, and the Center for Resource Solutions. Anne now owns and operates a home-based bed-and-breakfast open year-round in Takoma Park, Maryland with her son Kyle, and works part-time for The Voice, Takoma Park’s local online news source. She holds a Master of Science degree in Environmental Chemistry from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Engineering from Vanderbilt University.
Polansky first met Rick Piltz in 1991 when he came to work at the House Science Committee; Piltz inherited the issues Polansky had been working on, including climate change science and oversight of the US Global Change Research Program, and national energy policy. Their overlap in the House was short but they had become friends and stayed in touch. Several months after Rick blew the whistle, Polansky helped Piltz get Climate Science Watch off the ground, and was soon brought on by GAP full-time. From 2006-2009 Anne contributed over one hundred CSW blog posts offering unique perspectives on a wide variety of topics, and teamed up with Piltz to design and develop the elements of a National Climate Change Preparedness Initiative (NCCPI) – recognizing the urgent need for US and State leaders to recognize and prepare for the full array of climate change impacts, both predicted and occurring, in every sector of our economy and in every region of the country. Piltz’s continued work on “climate preparedness” was instrumental in bringing about President Obama’s 2013 Executive Order creating a White House Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience, and the incorporation of climate preparedness language into the President’s Climate Action Plan.
Nicky Sundt is a Summer 2017 Sr. Fellow for GAP’s Climate Science & Policy Watch (CSPW) program, brought on to lead a special report on the integrity and overall support for federal climate science and communications under the Trump Administration. She is an accomplished expert on energy and climate change with over 35 years of experience in government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. She spent most of the 1980s at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) where she was an analyst contributing to six major assessments, including OTA’s first major report to the US Congress on climate change. During the 1990s she was an editor, first with a privately published newsletter, Energy, Economics, and Climate Change; and then with a quarterly called Global Change, published by the Pacific Institute in Oakland, California.
In late 2000 she joined the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Coordination Office as the communications manager. During most of her seven years with the USGCRP, Nicky worked alongside CSPW founder Rick Piltz. Nicky and Rick collaborated closely and frequently in monitoring and pushing back against what Rick had dubbed the “global warming denial machine;” in advocating for a strong and effective federal interagency climate change research capability; and in promoting and defending the scientific integrity of the national climate change impacts assessment reports to Congress required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Nicky left the USGCRP at the end of 2007 to join the World Wildlife Fund’s (WWF) Climate Program where she stayed until July 2016, initially as Director of Climate Communications and later as Director for Climate Science and Policy Integration.
Nicky has authored hundreds of articles in the two publications she edited, and her work has been published in the The Guardian, New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Climate Progress, Wisconsin Public Radio, and elsewhere. She also has been interviewed and featured by media outlets such as National Public Radio and The Weather Channel.
From 1976 through 1990, Nicky spent most of her summers in the western region of the United States as a firefighter for the US Forest Service, including six seasons as a smokejumper. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley (B.S., 1976, Conservation of Natural Resources; M.A., 1980, Energy and Resources).
Katie serves as GAP’s Communications Officer, where she provides support for various communications and development projects, focusing on GAP’s online program campaigns and overall public education efforts. In this capacity, Katie serves as the lead Communications Officer for GAP’s Climate Science & Policy Watch program.
Katie joined GAP through the Mennonite Voluntary Service after graduating Cum Laude in 2016 from Eastern Mennonite University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics and Environmental Sustainability and minors in International Development and Mathematics.
Her previous experience includes two summers serving as a Research Engineer Intern for USAA and a semester with Gaines Architecture Group, conducting research on environmentally sustainable materials to be used in the construction of a carbon neutral house.
Rick S. Piltz – Founder (1943-2014)
Frederick S. “Rick” Piltz was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan; he was a public interest educator, writer, policy analyst, and advocate. Piltz got his undergraduate degree and was a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He taught political science at the University of Texas at Austin for four years, then turned to an interest in environmental and energy policy issues in the late 1970s; he then worked on these issues in both the executive and legislative branches of federal and state government, and in nonprofit public interest organizations. Piltz moved to Washington, DC in 1988, shortly before the first highly publicized Congressional hearing on global warming, and from that week onward he maintained a primary focus on the interactions of politics and science on the problems of global climate change and related issues. During his more than 20 years in Washington, his primary focus was on the collision of climate science with the reality of climate politics and policy.
Piltz served as a professional staff member of the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology from 1991 to 1995. There he supported the Committee’s oversight of climate and global change issues, including the US Global Change Research Program, as well as energy technology R&D issues. In this position he developed a strong interest in climate science research and served as a bridge between the research community and the policy arena.
In 1995 Piltz went to work as a Senior Associate at the Coordinating Office of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, where he stayed for ten years. In carrying out his responsibilities in this $2 billion a year climate science program, he developed an inside perspective on the relationships between the science community, career federal science program managers, political appointees under two administrations, and the Congress under shifting majorities. For nine years he edited and coordinated the development of Our Changing Planet, the program’s annual report to Congress and a principal means by which the activities of the U.S. Government are communicated to a wide audience.
Rick Piltz resigned from the program in March 2005, in protest of political tampering with communications emanating from the federal science programs. “I believe the overarching problem is that the Bush Administration…does not want and has acted to impede forthright communication of the state of climate science and its implications for society,” he wrote in his letter of resignation. Piltz blew the whistle on a high-level Bush White House operative who had been editing scientific reports to downplay the climate change threat. His whistleblower documentation of politically motivated White House editing and censorship of climate science program reports intended for the public and Congress received front-page coverage on June 8, 2005 in The New York Times, and was widely reported in the media. The story relied heavily on background material and leaked examples of edited documents Piltz and GAP had provided; the scathing article condemned the actions of Philip Cooney, Chief of Staff for the Council on Environmental Quality, who then abruptly left his post and took a job with the Exxon Mobil Corporation.
For these revelations, Piltz won the 2006 Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling.
“You have to have the leadership – listen to what federal climate scientists are saying – and embrace it and accept it and promote it and act on it.…But it’s really for the rest of us to take the responsibility to hold public officials accountable to enable society to get the global warming problem dealt with effectively. And that’s something I think that we all have a role in. I’ll leave you with that thought.”
– Rick Piltz, accepting the 2006 Ridenhour Award for Truth-telling at the National Press Club in April 2006
In partnership with the Government Accountability Project, Piltz founded Climate Science Watch (CSW) in the summer of 2005 (see CSW History) and was its director until 2014. He was an outspoken critic of the fossil fuel industry involvement in creating what he called the “global warming denial machine” and the slow pace of government action on climate change. Piltz was one of the first climate policy analysts to articulate the need to view climate change policy through the prism of national preparedness for climate change impacts such as extreme weather, flooding, droughts, and sea level rise. During his time with CSW, Rick . For more on Rick’s media appearances following his disclosure, his many appearances as a commentator, and his publications, please click here.
Before passing away on October 18, 2014, Rick Piltz articulated a vision for Climate Science Watch going forward, a pathway to follow to continue the legacy he created. In honor of his wishes, GAP formally launched a successor program, Climate Science & Policy Watch, in August 2015. With the help of a team of experts who, like Piltz often did, speak truth to power about climate change science and policy, CSPW continues to carry out the traditional watchdog role Piltz carved out, and is taking on new initiatives in accordance with the expanded vision Rick Piltz articulated.
The following are links to obituaries and tributes to Rick Pilt’s life and career: In Memoriam: Rick Piltz, Climate Science Champion and Bush-Era Whistleblower, R.I.P. Rick Piltz, Tribute by Peter Sinclair, and Remembering Rick Piltz.