Judicial Watch files suit over NOAA climate docs

Kathryn Sullivan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA AdministratorKathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.Government watchdog Judicial Watch has filed suit against the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), seeking documents relating to their methodology and internal communications with regard to climate change.

The group filed a FOIA request for the documents that was turned down. A congressional committee also demanded the documents that were just recently handed over to the committee after the agency initially refused to cooperate.

Judicial Watch is investigating how NOAA collects and disseminates climate data that is used in determining global climate change. NOAA collects data in thousands of ways ‚Äì from temperature gauges on land and buoys at sea, to satellites orbiting Earth.  Considered the “environmental intelligence agency,” NOAA is the nation’s leading collector of climate data.  In July, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked NOAA for both data and internal communications related to a controversial climate change study.  After the agency refused to comply with the document request, Smith’s committee issued a subpoena on October 13According to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee:

In June, NOAA widely publicized a study as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in climate change. After three letters requesting all communications from the agency surrounding the role of political appointees in the agency’s scientific process, Chairman Smith issued a subpoena for the information. Smith subsequently sent a letter on December 1st offering to accept documents and communications from NOAA political, policy and non-scientific staff as a first step in satisfying the subpoena requirements.

Information provided to the Committee by whistleblowers appears to show that the study was rushed to publication despite the concerns and objections of a number of NOAA employees.

Judicial Watch sued the agency on December 2 and served the complaint on the agency on December 8.  Less than a week later, on Tuesday, December 15, NOAA finally began to turn over documents to the House committee.  That same day, NOAA called and told Judicial Watch that it would begin searching for documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

On November 26, Smith published an opinion editorial in The Washington Times, which accused NOAA of tampering with data to help promote global warming alarmism:

NOAA often fails to consider all available data in its determinations and climate change reports to the public. A recent study by NOAA, published in the journal Science, made “adjustments” to historical temperature records and NOAA trumpeted the findings as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in global warming. The study’s authors claimed these adjustments were supposedly based on new data and new methodology. But the study failed to include satellite data.

At issue is the belief that the NOAA and NASA routinely fiddle with air and ocean temperature data to reflect a bigger problem with global warming than is actually present. Methodology is important, but the key will be found in the internal communications at the agency. If there was any funny business with the data, it will be there.

Judicial Watch is likely to get at least some of the documents without a judge’s ruling. But it’s hard to justify withholding documents that shed light on how the agency interprets data, considering that this sort of information is important for other scientists to review and comment on. Across the government, it is becoming increasingly difficult to pry basic information about how the administration gathers, analyzes, and interprets data that justify its extreme position on climate change.

You’d think they had something to hide.

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