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Thread: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

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    Mad Professor Senior Member Hurin_Rules's Avatar
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    Default Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    For those of you who don't have a subscription to the NY Times, and so might only have seen the abbreviated versions on the BBC or other papers, here's the full article:

    Official Played Down Emissions' Links to Global Warming

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN
    Published: June 7, 2005
    A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.

    Forum: The Environment
    In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved.

    Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before coming to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.

    The documents were obtained by The New York Times from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers. The project is representing Rick S. Piltz, who resigned in March after a decade working in the office that coordinates government climate research and issued the documents that Mr. Cooney edited.

    A White House spokeswoman, Michele St. Martin, said today that Mr. Cooney would not be made available to comment. "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record," she said. "He's not a cleared spokesman."

    Other White House officials said today that the changes made by Mr. Cooney were part of the normal interagency review that takes place on all documents related to global environmental change. "All comments are reviewed, and some are accepted and some are rejected," said Robert Hopkins, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He noted that one of the reports Mr. Cooney worked on, the administration's 10-year plan for climate research, was strongly endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences.

    And Myron Ebell, who has long campaigned against limits on greenhouse gases as director of climate policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, said such editing was necessary for "consistency" in meshing programs with policy.

    But critics said that while all administrations routinely vet government reports, scientific content in such reports should be reviewed by the White House Science and Technology Office. Climate experts and representatives of environmental groups, when shown examples of the revisions, said they illustrated the significant if largely invisible influence of Mr. Cooney and other White House officials with ties to energy industries that have long fought greenhouse-gas restrictions.

    In a memo sent last week to the top officials dealing with climate change at a dozen agencies, Mr. Piltz said the White House editing and other actions threatened to taint the government's $1.8 billion-a-year effort to clarify the causes and consequences of climate change.

    "Each administration has a policy position on climate change," Mr. Piltz wrote. "But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such as way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program."

    A senior Environmental Protection Agency scientist who works on climate questions said the White House environmental council, where Mr. Cooney works, had offered valuable suggestions on reports on occasion. But the scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because all agency employees are forbidden to speak with reporters without clearance, said the kinds of changes made by Mr. Cooney had damaged morale.

    "I have colleagues in other agencies who express the same view, that it has somewhat of a chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration," he said.

    (Page 2 of 2)

    Efforts by the Bush administration to highlight uncertainties in science pointing to human-caused warming appear to be putting the United States increasingly at odds with a growing list of world leaders and scientific bodies.

    Forum: The Environment
    Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who met with President Bush at the White House today, has been trying for several months to persuade Mr. Bush to intensify American efforts to limit greenhouse gases.

    Mr. Bush has called only for voluntary measures to slow growth in emissions through 2012.

    Today, saying their goal was to influence that meeting, the scientific academies of 11 countries, including those of the United States and Britain, released a joint letter saying "the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action."

    Starting with the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty in 1997, the oil group has promoted the idea that uncertainties in climate science justify delaying emissions restrictions on carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases.

    The top international and American panels of experts on climate have concluded that such emissions have very likely caused most of a global warming trend since 1950 and could raise temperatures at more than triple the 20th-century rate in this century if emissions are not cut.

    Upon learning of the White House report revisions, representatives of some environmental groups said that the effort to amplify uncertainties in the science was clearly intended to delay consideration of limits on the gases, which remain an unavoidable byproduct of burning oil and coal. "They've got three more years and the only way to control this issue and do nothing about it is to muddy the science," said Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a private group that has enlisted businesses in programs cutting emissions.

    The alterations are sometimes as subtle as the insertion of an adjective, but cause a clear shift in the meaning of the documents.

    For example, a sentence in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," originally read: "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

    Mr. Cooney's neat, compact notes modified the sentence to read: "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change...."

    In places where uncertainties in climate research were described, Mr. Cooney added qualifiers like "significant" and "fundamental."

    Another document showing the same pattern of changes is the 2003 Strategic Plan for the United States Climate Change Science Program, a thick report describing the reorganization of government climate research that was requested by Mr. Bush in his first speech on the issue, in June 2001.

    That document was reviewed by an expert panel assembled in 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists largely endorsed the administration's research plan, but they warned that the administration's procedures for vetting reports on climate could result in excessive political interference with science.

    Now it appeared that some interference was happening even before the research had gotten into full swing, said Dr. William H. Schlesinger, who was on the review committee and is dean of the Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University.

    After some of Mr. Cooney's changes to the drafts were described to Dr. Schlesinger by The New York Times, he said several seemed "egregious."

    "They're trying to throw enough uncertainty in so that either policymakers or the public would not want to take a firm stand on it," he said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/07/sc...l?pagewanted=2
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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    If you don't mind, I'll wait until this appears in a paper that hasn't had to publicly apologize for fabricating stories.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
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    Chief Sniffer Senior Member ichi's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such as way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program."
    This is the standard mode of operation for this admin. They count on the fanaticism of their 'base', but after all of the revisionism and doctoring and lies the Bush administration has zero credibility. In private, away from the media, I have heard mid-high ranking staff brag about how 'we make our own reality'

    ichi
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    Barbarian Member Ldvs's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Great article. Perhaps one should merge this topic with Lazul's "Exxon behind Bush's NO to Kyoto".

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    If you don't mind, I'll wait until this appears in a paper that hasn't had to publicly apologize for fabricating stories.
    While I understand your scepticism about the newspaper, I'm surprised you don't express more concerns about Bush's administration which is also notorious for fabricating stories.

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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    You're asking me to express outrage over an event that may or may not have happened, as it's primary source is a media outlet known to fabricate stories.

    "IF " it is proven in some other, independent venue that Bush fabricated either intelligence leading to the War in Iraq, or even that he altered scientific reports in an effort to sway public opinion on global warming, then yes, he should at the very least be censured, possibly more depending on the extent of his involvement and the harm inflicted on the public.

    While I favor means to control the impact of global warming, if it can be proven that such a phenomenon is truly occurring due to man's activities, I still maintain that Kyoto in particular is not about reducing global warming, but it's a partnership between Europe & China to hamstring the American economy, but that's a topic for another thread.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by ichi
    This is the standard mode of operation for this admin. They count on the fanaticism of their 'base', but after all of the revisionism and doctoring and lies the Bush administration has zero credibility. In private, away from the media, I have heard mid-high ranking staff brag about how 'we make our own reality'

    ichi
    Really Ichi.... I didn't know you spent a lot of time on Pennsylvania avenue. I'm seriously impressed.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
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    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
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    probably bored Member BDC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Looks like impeachment material to me. I mean if there is physical proof, what else can be done?

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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Until somebody other than the NY Times verifies and reports this story, it's hypothetical. They've admitted on repeated occassions to inventing stories, altering supporting documents and 'inventing witnesses'. This is where Jason Blair comes from folks. Until then, I put this right up there with 'what would I do if I discovered Bush was really an alien put in office to lead the way to global domination by the Zaugiazians from Cetia-Alpha-Four.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
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    Very Senior Member Gawain of Orkeny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Really Ichi.... I didn't know you spent a lot of time on Pennsylvania avenue. I'm seriously impressed.
    I believe Ichi san does indeed work for the government. Maybe he can fill you in
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    A Veteran Wargamer Member kiwitt's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Mr. Cooney is chief of staff ... on Environmental Quality, ....Before ... he was ... a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, ...
    Why would a member of the "Petroleum Institute" be appointed to head "Environmental Quality" ... I though this would be a conflict of interest. Oh, that's right the "Secretary of State" is an ex-Oil Company CEO.
    We work to live, and to live is to, play "Total War" or drive a VR-4

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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by Gawain of Orkeny
    I believe Ichi san does indeed work for the government. Maybe he can fill you in
    Out West, yeah. I know he's in big with the park rangers & the Interior Department, but that's not the Secretary, or Bush's cabinet directly.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
    Strike for the South

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    Things Change Member JAG's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    I was so shocked by the thought of the Bush administration and oil lobbyists editing documents so that global warming is not real I gave a great big howl of horror!! Oh my! Who would have thought people.
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    INEZ: One always dies too soon - or too late. And yet one's whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are - your life, and nothing else.

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    Mad Professor Senior Member Hurin_Rules's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    Until somebody other than the NY Times verifies and reports this story, it's hypothetical. They've admitted on repeated occassions to inventing stories, altering supporting documents and 'inventing witnesses'. This is where Jason Blair comes from folks. Until then, I put this right up there with 'what would I do if I discovered Bush was really an alien put in office to lead the way to global domination by the Zaugiazians from Cetia-Alpha-Four.
    CNN and the White House good enough for ya? :



    Former White House official takes Exxon job
    Cooney caused controversy by editing climate reports
    Wednesday, June 15, 2005 Posted: 11:56 AM EDT (1556 GMT)

    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A former White House official and one-time oil industry lobbyist whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said Tuesday.

    The White House announced over the weekend that Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned, calling it a long-planned departure. He had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for large oil companies.

    Cooney will join Exxon Mobil in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts told The Associated Press by telephone from the company's headquarters in Irving, Texas. He declined to described Cooney's job.

    Cooney could not be reached through the White House for comment.

    White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cooney's departure was "completely unrelated" to the disclosure two days earlier that he had made changes in several government climate change reports that were issued in 2002 and 2003.

    "Mr. Cooney has long been considering his options following four years of service to the administration," Perino said. "He'd accumulated many weeks of leave and decided to resign and take the summer off to spend time with his family."

    The White House made no mention of Cooney's plans to join Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company. Its executives have been among the most skeptical in the oil industry about the prospects of climate change because of a growing concentration of heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere. The leading greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels.

    Like the Bush administration, Exxon Mobil Chairman Lee Raymond has argued strongly against the Kyoto climate accord and has raised questions about the certainty of climate science as it relates to possible global warming. Greenpeace and other environmental groups have singled out Raymond and Exxon Mobil for protests because of its position on climate change.

    Last week, the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps whistle blowers, made available documents showing that Cooney was closely involved in final editing of two administration climate reports. He made changes that critics said consistently played down the certainty of the science surrounding climate change.

    After Cooney's involvement in editing the climate reports was first reported by The New York Times, the White House defended the changes, saying they were part of the normal, wide-ranging review process and did not violate an administration pledge to rely on sound science.

    A whistleblower, Rick Piltz, who resigned in March from the government office that coordinates federal climate change programs, made the documents -- showing handwritten edits by Cooney -- available to the Project on Government Accountability and, in turn, to the media.
    http://www.cnn.com/2005/POLITICS/06/....ap/index.html

    I guess he's now back at Exxon where he belongs.
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    Member Member KafirChobee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Good article.

    Always expect those in denial of climactic change, or that the Bush administration is corruptly in favor of big oil and energy (coal is Bush43's new idea to reduce our dependence on oil, if you hadn't heard - he said so in a speech a few eeks ago) to find cause to reject facts that are 180 degrees out of sync with their worship of the Bushy.

    If one looks hard at the EPA, all they see are 'former" anti-environment lobbiests.

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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Actually, yes, that is good enough for me. Not certain what happened, but it sounds like a pretty serious breach of protocol. Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything 'criminal' in what the guy did, it's more like an ethics violation. As he no longer works for the White House, I don't know what exactly can be done to him. Congress should look into whether it began and ended with this guy, or there were more people involved that are still in the administration. Then, they could actually do something to them.

    But I believe the intent of your question was more along the lines of 'do I still deny that this administration is rapidly spiralling into a credibity problem', and the answer is no, it's becoming more and more clear to me that lobbyists hold too much influence in the current administration and that's pretty sad.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
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    Humanist Senior Member Franconicus's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    If you don't mind, I'll wait until this appears in a paper that hasn't had to publicly apologize for fabricating stories.
    You think waiting is a good strategy?

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    Mad Professor Senior Member Hurin_Rules's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Corleone
    Actually, yes, that is good enough for me.
    Good, we are in agreement then.

    Unfortunately, I don't think there's anything 'criminal' in what the guy did, it's more like an ethics violation.
    No, I never meant to claim it was criminal; just partisan, unscientific and misleading the the American people.
    "I love this fellow God. He's so deliciously evil." --Stuart Griffin

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    Jillian & Allison's Daddy Senior Member Don Corleone's Avatar
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    Default Re: Bush aide and oil lobbyist edited reports on climate change

    Quote Originally Posted by Franconicus
    You think waiting is a good strategy?
    Are you deliberately trying to miscontrue my point? I didn't say waiting on doing something about global warming was a good strategy, and I strongly suspect you knew that when you posted. I said I wanted to wait to see the story confirmed in a more reputable paper then the NY Times, which, as I pointed out, has been exposed for fabricating multiple stories over the past couple of years. If you want to read American papers, pick one that's more suitable...the NY Times isn't fit to line a birdcage with.
    "A man who doesn't spend time with his family can never be a real man."
    Don Vito Corleone: The Godfather, Part 1.

    "Then wait for them and swear to God in heaven that if they spew that bull to you or your family again you will cave there heads in with a sledgehammer"
    Strike for the South

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