CLIMATEGATE Meets the LAW: Sen Inhofe calls for Investigation
Inhofe intends to ask for a probe of the embattled climate scientists for possible criminal acts. And he thinks Gore should be recalled to explain his prior congressional testimony.
February 23, 2010 – by Charlie Martin
Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) today asked the Obama administration to investigate what he called “the greatest scientific scandal of our generation” — the actions of climate scientists revealed by the Climategate Files, and the subsequent admissions by the editors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment Report (AR4).
Senator Inhofe also called for former Vice President Al Gore to be called back to the Senate to testify.
“In [Gore’s] science fiction movie, every assertion has been rebutted,” Inhofe said. He believes Vice President Gore should defend himself and his movie before Congress.
Just prior to a hearing at 10:00 a.m. EST, Senator Inhofe released a minority staff report from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, of which he is ranking member. Senator Inhofe is asking the Department of Justice to investigate whether there has been research misconduct or criminal actions by the scientists involved, including Dr. Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University and Dr. James Hansen of Columbia University and the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Science.
This report, obtained before today’s hearing, alleges:
[The] Minority Staff of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works believe the scientists involved may have violated fundamental ethical principles governing taxpayer-funded research and, in some cases, federal laws. In addition to these findings, we believe the emails and accompanying documents seriously compromise the IPCC -backed “consensus” and its central conclusion that anthropogenic emissions are inexorably leading to environmental catastrophes.
As has been reported here at Pajamas Media over the last several months, the exposure of the Climategate Files has led to a re-examination of the IPCC Assessment Reports, especially the fourth report (AR4), published in 2007. The IPCC AR4 report was named by Environmental Protection Agency head Lisa Jackson as one of the major sources of scientific support for the agency’s Endangerment Finding, the first step towards allowing the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
Since the Climategate Files were released, the IPCC has been forced to retract a number of specific conclusions — such as a prediction that Himalayan glaciers would disappear by 2035 — and has been forced to confirm that the report was based in large part on reports from environmental activist groups instead of peer-reviewed scientific literature. Dr. Murari Lal, an editor of the IPCC AR4 report, admitted to the London Daily Mail that he had known the 2035 date was false, but was included in the report anyway “purely to put political pressure on world leaders.”
Based on this Minority Staff report, Senator Inhofe will be calling for an investigation into potential research misconduct and possible criminal acts by the researchers involved. At the same time, Inhofe will ask the Environmental Protection Agency to reopen its consideration of an Endangerment Finding for carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Federal Clean Air Act, and will ask Congress to withdraw funding for further consideration of carbon dioxide as a pollutant.
In requesting that the EPA reopen the Endangerment Finding, Inhofe joins with firms such as the Peabody Energy Company and several state Attorneys General (such as Texas and Virginia) in objecting to the Obama administration’s attempt to extend regulatory control over carbon dioxide emissions in the United States. Senator Inhofe believes this staff report “strengthens the case” for the Texas and Virginia Attorneys General.
Senator Inhofe’s announcement today appears to be the first time a member of Congress has formally called for an investigation into research misconduct and potential criminal acts by the scientists involved.
The staff report describes four major issues revealed by the Climategate Files and the subsequent revelations:
1. The emails suggest some climate scientists were cooperating to obstruct the release of damaging information and counter-evidence.
2. They suggest scientists were manipulating the data to reach predetermined conclusions.
3. They show some climate scientists colluding to pressure journal editors not to publish work questioning the “consensus.”
4. They show that scientists involved in the report were assuming the role of climate activists attempting to influence public opinion while claiming scientific objectivity.
The report notes a number of potential legal issues raised by their Climategate investigation:
1. It suggests scientific misconduct that may violate the Shelby Amendment — requiring open access to the results of government-funded research — and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) policies on scientific misconduct (which were announced December 12, 2000).
2. It notes the potential for violations of the Federal False Statements and False Claims Acts, which may have both civil and criminal penalties.
3. The report also notes the possibility of there having been an obstruction of Congress in Congressional Proceeds, which may constitute an obstruction of justice.
If proven, these charges could subject the scientists involved to debarment from federally funded research, and even to criminal penalties.
By naming potential criminal offenses, Senator Inhofe raises the stakes for climate scientists and others involved. Dr. Phil Jones of the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit has already been forced to step aside because of the Climategate FOIA issues, and Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State is currently under investigation by the university for potential misconduct. Adding possible criminal charges to the mix increases the possibility that some of the people involved may choose to blow the whistle in order to protect themselves.
Senator Inhofe believes that Dr. Hansen and Dr. Mann should be “let go” from their posts “for the good of the institutions involved.”
The question, of course, is whether the Senate Democratic majority will allow this investigation to proceed, in the face of the Obama administration’s stated intention to regulate CO2 following the apparent death of cap and trade legislation. The Democratic majority has blocked previous attempts by Inhofe to investigate issues with climate science.
For more of PJM’s most recent Climategate coverage, read Charlie Martin’s “Climategate: The World’s Biggest Story, Everywhere but Here“.