Dems raise alarm over proposed White House climate council

Dems raise alarm over proposed White House climate council
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A group of liberal lawmakers in both the House and Senate are raising concerns over a new climate council being organized at the White House that includes members who question the science behind global warming.

In two letters sent to the president this week, the incredulous lawmakers urged Trump to reconsider the council — which is being likened to a similar attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to craft a “red team, blue team” approach to delegitimize climate science — saying it would fly in the face of scientific evidence.

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The letter from four House lawmakers Thursday asked Trump to provide more information about the Presidential Climate Security Committee, which is reportedly being organized through the White House’s National Security Council (NSC) and headed by a well-known climate skeptic, former Princeton professor William Happer. The panel will look into climate change’s potential effects on national security, according to reports.

“Given the previous statements you’ve made that fly in the face of explicit scientific evidence and the findings of your own [Department of Defense] and Director of National Intelligence, we have serious concerns about any effort to construct a secret committee to question the basic scientific fact of climate change,” the lawmakers wrote.

Details they desired as listed in the letter included the names and backgrounds of all staffers and members who will be involved with the committee and a commitment to maintain notes from committee meetings and provide regular updates to the House committees on the status of the working group.

Additionally, the lawmakers asked for the council to commit to the guidelines of the Federal Advisory Committee Act, which emphasizes open transparency, public comment and detailed reporting.

“We are particularly concerned that this panel reportedly will not be subject to the rules of the Federal Advisory Committee, allowing for significant subjective discretion in the composition of this panel, the level of information disclosed to the public by the panel, and the assurance that the panel will not be inappropriately influenced by special interests,” the lawmakers wrote.

The letter was signed by Democratic Reps. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithIran talks unlikely despite window of opportunity GOP lawmakers call for provisions barring DOD funds for border wall to be dropped Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback MORE (Wash.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse panel investigating private equity firms' role in surprise medical billing Hotel industry mounts attack on Airbnb with House bill Push on 'surprise' medical bills hits new roadblocks MORE (N.J.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) chair of the Natural Resources Committee and Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonDemocrats ramp up calls to investigate NOAA Overnight Energy: House moves to block Trump drilling | House GOP rolls out proposal to counter offshore drilling ban | calls mount for NOAA probe The Hill's Morning Report — Trump applauds two-year budget deal with 0 billion spending hike MORE (D-Texas) chair of the Science, Space and Technology Committee.

The White House has remained tight-lipped on the status of the panel, which must ultimately be created through a presidential executive order.

Another letter to Trump, drafted by senators Wednesday called the proposed panel “dangerous” and “misguided.”

“Climate change is widely acknowledged to be a global threat, and enabling climate skeptics to undermine the views of our nation’s scientific leaders on this critical issue is dangerously misguided for both our national and economic security,” the 14 senators wrote.

The group took specific issue with Happer’s involvement leading the committee.

“Dr. Happer’s statements about climate change leave no doubt that he denies the overwhelming body of scientific evidence on the topic,” the letter read.

The lawmakers highlighted that the creation of the committee flew in the face of a number of scientific studies, both international and conducted by the federal government, that warned climate change was a real threat which could soon lead to irreversible devastation.

They said the underlying basis for the proposed committee was at “direct odds” with the findings of various government institutions. They pointed to studies by the Government Accountability Office that said worsening storm systems could affect national food security, the intelligence community’s 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment that warned climate change could fuel resource competition and economic distress, as well as a 2018 statement by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, who said global warming could cause “great devastation.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment about details of the council's proposed membership or the lawmakers’ letters.