Trump official’s pick to oversee climate report removed from White House post
A scientist chosen by a Trump administration appointee to oversee the government’s report on the effects of climate change was removed from this post and reassigned to a different government agency.
An official with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) confirmed to The Hill that Betsy Weatherhead’s detail at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has ended and that she returned to the USGS, where she was originally hired.
The Washington Post first reported that officials at the White House Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP) had decided to reassign Weatherhead, an experienced atmospheric scientist.
Scientists praised Weatherhead’s selection at the time due to her decades of experience as a climate scientist in both academic and private sectors. She once served on the board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and is considered to be an expert on Earth observations, ozone depletion and the intersection of weather and climate.
Individuals close to the situation told the Post there was friction between Weatherhead and officials from the 13 agencies participating in the research program.
Despite her career as a respected climate scientist, the Post notes that Weatherhead has placed importance on communicating scientific uncertainty, which may have been what made her unpopular with the Biden administration.
Weatherhead’s ideas for the assessment reportedly clashed with federal officials as she sought to bring in more authors from the private sector and increase the amount of chapters on climate change mitigation.
Some were surprised that Weatherhead was named to lead the assessment, as she is considered a mainstream scientist and accepts that human-induced climate change is occurring and poses a threat. This contrasts with other Trump appointees like David Legates and Ryan Maue, who have questioned either the impacts of human activity on climate change or its effects on extreme weather.
Weatherhead was chosen by former OSTP head Kelvin Droegemeier. As she was not a political appointee, having worked with the government through the Geological Survey, Weatherhead was able to keep her job after the new administration began.
This story was updated at 5:57 p.m.