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US Congress Vs NOAA: GOP Science Chief Threatens Prosecution Over Climate Study

John Siciliano, The Washington Examiner

A top Republican is threatening the head of the government’s climate research arm with criminal prosecution if the agency does not hand over materials related to a climate change study that shows there has been no “pause” in global warming.

Texas Republican Rep. Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, sent a letter to the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Wednesday asking for all correspondence between the agency and outside sources about the study’s release.

Smith has been trying to get answers from the agency for months. NOAA fired back last week saying it has provided documents and briefings to science committee staff, and that in its opinion has met all the requirements of a recent subpoena sent by Smith.

But Smith says that wasn’t enough and is now threatening civil and criminal prosecution.

“Your failure to comply with the committee’s subpoena has delayed the committee’s investigation and thwarted the committee’s constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of the executive branch,” Smith said in the Wednesday letter to NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan. “Furthermore, your failure to comply with a duly issued subpoena may expose you to civil and/or criminal enforcement mechanisms.”

The study is seen by global warming skeptics as politically motivated. They say the study released last spring seeks to undermine their arguments that the Earth’s climate has not been warming for the last 15 years. The agency study emphasized the fact that there has been no pause in global warming in that period.

Many scientists say the Earth’s climate is warming due to an increase in greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels, and that immediate reductions in these emissions must occur or risk catastrophic consequences. Smith doesn’t buy that argument.

Wednesday’s letter provides a list of emails and documents Smith wants from Sullivan, including: internal communications between her agency and the Executive Office of the President; communications and documents between it and the White House Office of Management and Budget; all communications on the study sent between NOAA and other agencies; and a reason why the total number of documents requested have been withheld.

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