Group sues Trump administration for info related to 'attempts to politicize NOAA'

A pro-democracy group sued the Trump administration Monday to force the release of public documents they believe will shed light on politicization of science at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Democracy Forward filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to compel the administration to release requested public documents related to the removal of Tim Gallaudet from his position as acting administrator of NOAA in February.

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The liberal advocacy group has raised concerns over Commerce Secretary Wilbur RossWilbur Louis RossDemocrats inch closer to issuing subpoenas for Interior, EPA records Overnight Energy: Dems subpoena Perry in impeachment inquiry | EPA to overhaul rules on lead contamination tests | Commerce staff wrote statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump Commerce staff drafted statement rebuking weather service for contradicting Trump's hurricane predictions MORE’s decision to remove Gallaudet from the acting post earlier this year. Gallaudet last December told a science conference that President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE had never asked to be briefed on climate-related matters by the agency.

NOAA is the nation’s leading science agency.

Democracy Forward first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for the documents in May.

“The Trump administration’s attacks on scientists speaking the truth are dangerous. We’re suing to expose improper attempts to politicize NOAA because the public needs to be able to count on science agencies to do their jobs without political interference,” Democracy Forward Executive Director Anne Harkavy said in a statement.

The lawsuit comes as Trump administration officials and Ross in particular face heavy criticism for recently appearing to politicize the science of hurricanes at NOAA. According to reports by The New York Times, Ross played a key part in drafting an unsigned letter sent to all NOAA staff early last week that chastised the agency’s rebuttal of claims made by Trump that Hurricane Dorian posed a threat to Alabama.

Since the report, several Democratic lawmakers and a handful of environmental groups have called for Ross’s resignation. Several lawmakers have also asked for investigations and congressional inquiries into the Trump administration’s influence at NOAA.

NOAA has been without a Senate-confirmed administrator for the longest period since the agency was created in 1970. The confirmation for Trump’s nominee to head NOAA, Barry Myers, has been held up for years amid reports of conflicts of interest and sexual harassment charges at his old company AccuWeather.