Dems raise alarm over proposed White House climate council

Dems raise alarm over proposed White House climate council
© UPI Photo

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.

ADVERTISEMENT
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 SmithBoosting military deterrence in the Indo-Pacific region House chairmen demand explanation on Trump's 'illegal' withdrawal from Open Skies Treaty Overnight Defense: Trump to withdraw US from Open Skies Treaty | Pentagon drops ban on recruits who had virus | FBI says Corpus Christi shooting terror-related MORE (Wash.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneFederal watchdog finds cybersecurity vulnerabilities in FCC systems Overnight Health Care — Presented by That's Medicaid — Deal on surprise medical bills faces obstacles | House GOP unveils rival drug pricing measure ahead of Pelosi vote | Justices to hear case over billions in ObamaCare payments Obstacles remain for deal on surprise medical bills MORE (N.J.), chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee, Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) chair of the Natural Resources Committee and Eddie Bernice JohnsonEddie Bernice JohnsonHouse members race to prepare for first-ever remote votes Minority lawmakers gain unprecedented clout amid pandemic Americans must have confidence federal agencies are using the best available science to confront coronavirus 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.