Energy & Environment

Lawmakers push NOAA to prevent future ‘Sharpiegate’

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Democratic lawmakers are asking for assurances from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that the agency will put measures in place to prevent a future “Sharpiegate” incident.

June report from the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) found that the agency violated its scientific integrity policy by issuing a statement in September contradicting the National Weather Service shortly after President Trump said Hurricane Dorian was headed toward Alabama.

“While you dispute the NAPA findings in your response — stating that the tweet and NOAA statement on Hurricane Dorian are ‘not the types of science and research to which the [scientific integrity] policy applies—it remains clear that this incident casts serious doubt over NOAA’s ability to ensure the scientific integrity of its world-class employees,” Democratic Sens. Ed Markey (Mass.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (Conn.), Mazie Hirono (Hawaii), Ron Wyden (Ore.) and Maggie Hassan (N.H.) wrote in a letter to NOAA.

NOAA wrote in a Sept. 6 statement that “tropical storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama,” contradicting a Sept. 1 statement from the National Weather Service in Birmingham that said the state would see “no impacts” from the hurricane. 

The statement came after Trump insisted that Alabama should prepare for the storm, which ultimately landed on the East Coast. In defending his claim, Trump used a marked-up projection map produced by NOAA that conflicted with information given by weather forecasters.

The NAPA report, which was requested by NOAA following public pressure, found that “the development of the statement was not based on science but appears to be largely driven by external influence from senior Commerce [Department] officials who drafted the Sept. 6 statement.”

The lawmakers argue NOAA must “determine what steps you will take to implement or even to exceed NAPA’s recommendations in order to establish an ethically sound culture at NOAA that ensures scientific integrity is paramount.”

NOAA did not immediately respond to request for comment from The Hill.

Tags Donald Trump Ed Markey Elizabeth Warren Hurricane Dorian Hurricane Dorian–Alabama controversy Maggie Hassan Mazie Hirono National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Weather Service Ron Wyden Sharpiegate United States Department of Commerce
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