Trump official inserted debunked climate change language into scientific documents: report

An official at the Interior Department has led an effort to insert misleading language about climate change, including some already debunked claims, into official agency reports, The New York Times reported Monday.

Indur Goklany, a longtime department employee whose responsibilities expanded under the Trump administration, reportedly led the effort. He was promoted to the office of the deputy secretary near the beginning of President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE’s time in office and began attending senior-level meetings and weighing in on early policy moves, the Times reported.

The Times reports that the misleading language appears in at least nine reports, including environmental studies and impact statements on major watersheds in the West.

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Internally, the language claiming there’s a lack of consensus among scientists that the earth is warming was known as “Goks uncertainty language,” according to the Times.

The Times report is based in part off of department emails dating from 2017 through last year obtained under public-records laws by the watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute.

The Times also interviewed current and former department officials. Four current and former Interior Department officials told the newspaper that Goklany’s rise in the department was abrupt and unexpected. 

A spokesperson for the Interior Department was not immediately available for comment when contacted by The Hill. 

The department referred question from the Times to the Bureau of Reclamation, the office that oversees the nations’ dams and water resources and the first to publish the language, according to the Times. 

“Uncertainty is a part of climate modeling, as it is with all scientific modeling,” Marlon Duke, the bureau’s acting public affairs chief, told the news outlet. 

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He told the newspaper the bureau did not have a formal requirement to include specific language in any document, “but we strive to be fully transparent in recognizing and sharing appropriate uncertainties in the information we use to make decisions.”

Goklany instructed department scientists to add that rising carbon dioxide levels are beneficial because it “may increase plant water use efficiency” and “lengthen the agricultural growing season,” the Times reports.

Both claims misrepresent scientific consensus.