Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe will ignore a politically- motivated “witch hunt” targeting climate scientists who are skeptical of global warming, with aides calling the Democrats’ effort an “exercise in theatrics.”
The Oklahoma Republican is content to ignore the Democratic effort aimed at undermining the scientists’ credibility by showing they were unduly influenced by money allegedly received from fossil fuel companies
Inhofe sees the investigations as an “exercise in theatrics from the minority” that does not warrant a “whole hearing,” the committee aide said. The panel’s oversight team will keep the issue on the radar, but the chairman doesn’t want to do anything that would benefit the opposition party and fuel the Democrats’ agenda.
The issue arose last month after a news article revealed that a scientist known for his skeptical views on climate change had received $1.2 million from an unnamed fossil fuel company.
The article spurred Democrats to start investigations in both the House and Senate, sending more than 100 letters to academic institutions, fossil-fuel trade associations and companies asking for records going back a decade on all funding related to research and outreach regarding climate change and global warming.
Inhofe and a group of GOP colleagues sent a counter letter to the same individuals and groups contacted by the Democrats, rebuking the investigation as an affront to the freedom of speech. “The letter you received from our colleagues is a wholly inappropriate effort to challenge these well-accepted truths,” the GOP letter read. “We ask you to not be afraid of political repercussions or public attacks regardless of how you respond.”
But that was the extent of the GOP response.
House Republicans dismissed the investigations as mere “political theater” in response to House Natural Resources Committee ranking member Raul Grijalva’s, D-Ariz., effort to investigate the scientists.
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, plans to ignore the Democrats’ effort, said a committee spokesman.
“The chairman is not engaging in the investigation, which is simply political theater,” the spokesman said. “Instead Mr. Bishop is focusing on the real issues under the committee’s jurisdiction, including addressing the upcoming forest fire season and promoting reforms based on science-based management practices, increasing energy production in offshore waters and on our federal lands, streamlining permitting, and modernizing up energy, power and water infrastructure.”
Back in the Senate, the Environment and Public Works Committee aide said the panel is too busy to invest time in countering a Democratic witch hunt. Instead, the panel will focus on oversight of the administration’s climate agenda, specifically the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant rules, known as the Clean Power Plan.
The plan sets carbon dioxide emissions limits for each state with the goal of reducing greenhouse gases, which many scientists have linked to global warming, from the nation’s existing fleet of power plants.
Republicans argue that the cost of the EPA plan is not justified and will cause irrevocable harm to the country’s economy.