Science vs. industry: Climate Change battle rages in Congress

When all else fails, use intimidation and coercion:

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, has subpoenaed scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and demanded that they turn over internal e-mails related to their research. Their findings contradicted earlier work showing that global warming had paused, and Smith, a climate change skeptic, has accused them of altering global temperature data and rushing to publish their research in the June issue of the journal Science.

On Tuesday, seven scientific organizations representing hundreds of thousands of scientists sent an unsparing letter to Smith, warning that his efforts are “establishing a practice of inquests” that will have a chilling effect.

This is standard operating procedure for these ignorant bullies. They don't want these e-mails for scientific purposes, they just want to parse the communications for any little nugget they can take out-of-context to create a nefarious conspiracy. But this is not just a "partisan" issue; the not-so-invisible hand of the fossil fuel industry is pulling Lamar Smith's strings:

Smith shifted tactics last week, alleging that the research was rushed and citing what he says is information provided by agency whistleblowers showing that some employees at the agency were concerned that it was premature to publish the study.

The researchers may have violated the agency’s scientific integrity standard, Smith suggested.

“Their agenda comes first, and the facts come second if at all,” he said in a speech last week to the Texas Public Policy Foundation in Austin. He denounced the president’s climate agenda as “suspect.”

A speech I'm sure Lamar was well-paid to deliver. As you guessed, the Texas Public Policy Foundation is merely an industry-funded stink-tank:

A tax document shows that—surprise!—the influential right-wing organization is funded by the Koch Brothers, TXU, Exxon, State Farm Insurance, Big Tobacco, etc.

According to the tax filings, TPPF gets a majority of its funding from a relatively small group of major corporations, conservative foundations and wealthy individuals with a financial interest in the type of policies that TPPF promotes. Altogether, the list of donors includes 129 individuals, corporations and foundations and totals $4.7 million in donations.

“Most think tanks work for their funders and TPPF’s donors are a Who’s Who of Texas polluters, giant utilities and big insurance companies,” said Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice. “TPPF is thinking the way its donors want it to think.”

TPPF has also rallied to the defense of coal, in particular Luminant’s fleet of coal- and lignite-fired power plants, which are struggling due to competition from natural gas and stricter EPA limits on mercury, smog and carbon pollution. (Luminant is a unit of Energy Future Holdings.) Luminant and TPPF singled out the EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule for sustained legal and rhetorical attack. But TPPF was the most strident, saying it would “eliminate jobs, threaten the reliability of our electricity grid, drive up the cost of electricity, and lower economic growth.”

Smith's Congressional career has produced somewhere north of $5 million in personal assets, with a hefty chunk invested in oil & gas holdings. Even if he wasn't getting speaking fees and campaign contributions from fossil fuel interests, he'd still have some serious ethical issues surrounding his crusade against NOAA. As to the legitimacy of the published data, back to the OP:

But a spokeswoman for Science said in an interview that the NOAA scientists’ research was subject to a longer, more intensive review than is customary.

“This paper went through as rigorous a review as it could have received,” said Ginger Pinholster, chief of communications for AAAS, which publishes Science. “Any suggestion that the review was ‘rushed’ is baseless and without merit.”

She said the report, submitted to the journal in December, went through two rounds of peer review by other scientists in the field before it was accepted in May. The number of outside reviewers was larger than usual, and the time from submission to online publication was about 50 percent longer than the journal’s average of 109 days, Pinholster said.

And of course, to drive a final nail in Lamar's intellectual coffin, 2015 is steadily on-course to becoming the hottest year on record. I will be wearing my cargo shorts today.

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