Sunday, February 19, 2017

BatesMotel#3 - US Rep Lamar Smith - Justice or Malicious Witch Hunt

Congressman Lamar Smith’s Feb 5th press release is a chilling exercise in Orwellian Doublespeak. One aspect in particular deserves special attention, that is the representative's sanctimonious profession of concern for science and the integrity of the process.  Then why, I'd like to ask him, is he sticking his extremely opinionated and politically oh so manipulative fingers into it?  
Lamar's words do not jive with the reality and this addendum is about exploring that aspect of Representative Smith's fraud against We The People, it includes links and informative quotes from the following:

House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith wrote: "Since then, the Committee has attempted to obtain information that would shed further light on these allegationsbut was obstructed at every turn by the previous administration’s officials.  (Rep Smith) repeatedly asked, ‘What does NOAA have to hide?’"
Dr. Bates’ revelations and NOAA’s obstruction certainly lend credence to what I’ve(Rep.Smith) expected all along – that (Karl et al. 2015) used flawed data, was rushed to publication in an effort to support the president’s climate change agenda, and ignored NOAA’s own standards for scientific study.  
What’s the Deal with Rep. Lamar Smith’s Subpoena to NOAA over Climate Science? An FAQ Resource
Research Director, Center for Science and Democracy | November 16, 2015
Concern is growing about the broader implications of House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s subpoena to NOAA and subsequent actions. Chairman Smith is misleading the public about what he is asking for and how NOAA updated its long-term climate dataset. As a result, some inaccurate headlines and articles have been published. As a result, I thought a post of Frequently Asked Questions on the topic would be timely. So here goes:

  • On October 13, the Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Lamar Smith issued a subpoena to scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) asking for all correspondence, notes, and other materials from the last seven years related to the work of certain NOAA climate scientists, motivated by their authorship on a paper published in Science earlier this year. The move was one of the first uses of the Chairman’s newly granted subpoena powers, which allow him to issue subpoenas without the consent of both parties. On October 27, NOAA sent a letter back to Smith outlining the publicly available data and research methods, resources, and other communications that Rep. Smith already had access to.

    Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, the ranking member on the House Science Committee, sent a scathing letter to Chairman Smith condemning the “illegitimate harassment” by Rep. Smith on October 23. Then on November 4, the American Meteorological Society echoed this sentiment in its own letter to the Chairman, disapproving of his actions. ...

    Some headlines have implied that NOAA is concealing scientific data and research methods, but this isn’t the case. As NOAA detailed in its letter to Rep. Smith, the Science Committee (and anyone with an internet connection) has access to the data and methods used to produce the results in the study. This is all he needs to be able to assess the quality of the science under discussion. Still, NOAA went the extra step and met several times with committee staff to provide them with the (again, already publicly available) data, explain the science, and answer numerous questions. But Smith continued with the subpoena regardless. ...

    A good question. The study under discussion analyzes surface observation data for temperature, one input (but not the only input) into scientists’ measuring the rate at which climate change is occurring. (For a full summary of the paper and its implications, check out my colleague Roberto Mera’s post). In recent years there was an apparent hiatus or slowdown in the rate of global warming observed from surface temperature observations, a point that climate contrarians have (inaccurately) used repeatedly to make the case that climate change is either not happening or has been exaggerated.

    Karl et al. 2015 updates NOAA’s global temperature dataset using a larger weather station database and gives new understanding of temperature biases in sea surface temperature raw observations collected from sources like buoys and ships. …

    To be clear, the updates that the NOAA scientists made to the global temperature dataset were normal and routine, as scientists need to account for all kinds of changes to how temperature observations are taken over time and all over the world. Taking temperature measurements from ships has evolved over the last century, ... (More explanation of this concept is here)

    An inquiry like Smith’s that dives deeper, asking for internal communications between NOAA scientists is invasive and unnecessary for a legitimate investigation of scientific validity. As I and my colleagues have documented extensively before (and again here and here), communications among scientists on scientific topics should be protected from public scrutiny. Such privacy for scientific deliberations is necessary for scientists to have the freedom to share ideas, talk frankly with colleagues, and let scientific understanding evolve. This is how science works. ..

    Last week, the American Meteorological Society (AMS) sent a letter to Rep. Smith, echoing this point. “Singling out specific research studies, and implicitly questioning the integrity of the researchers conducting those studies, can be viewed as a form of intimidation that could deter scientists from freely carrying out research on important national challenges,” wrote the AMS.

    Doesn’t Congress have the authority to conduct oversight of federal agencies, which use taxpayer dollars?

    Indeed, Congress has the authority to conduct oversight of federal agencies, and this is what Rep. Smith is invoking to target the NOAA scientists. 

    Specifically, Rep. Smith is exploiting his new (worrisome) unilateral subpoena powers that don’t require agreement from both parties on the committee. ...

    There are of course many situations where Congressional oversight is warranted and helpful for understanding actions taken by the executive branch and for seeking out waste, fraud, and abuse within the government. This is why Congress was granted this authority by our forefathers. But here we have a different case. First, there is no suggestion of wrongdoing by the scientists.  

    The paper in question used publicly available data and methods, was peer-reviewed and accepted for publication in a top journal, and is widely accepted by the scientific community. Nevertheless, the issuance of a subpoena, and public misrepresentations of science suggesting that NOAA has “altered data” and is hiding information, suggests guilt. Rather transparently, this demonstrates that Smith’s subpoena is not about the science; it’s about politics. ...

    Disturbingly, we are seeing Congress now take on the tactics that were previously reserved only for industry and fringe politically active nonprofits. As my colleague Michael Halpern points out, witch hunts for scientists’ emails are an increasingly common intimidation tactic used by industry groups to cast doubt on evidence that is viewed as contrary to their interests. In order to access scientists’ internal exchanges, other entities and public officials have used subpoenas (see British Petroleum and Woods Hole or former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli), open records laws (see many examples), and theft (see Climategate). But a congressional committee chairman using that tactic takes it to a new level.

    Let’s take a step back and look at what we are talking about here. Scientists at NOAA are using publicly available data and have shared their methods. Their work has stood up to scrutiny from their peers in the scientific community. In the world of science, this gives the work credibility. 

    Disagreements with the approach or findings of the study should be battled out in the scientific literature. Other scientists with concerns about the study are free to re-analyze the data and publish their own findings. This is how scientific work is scrutinized, challenged, and made more robust over time.

    As an agency, NOAA is no stranger to scientific integrity. In fact, NOAA has one of the strongest scientific integrity policies of any federal agency.  A recent survey by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that many NOAA scientists agree that the scientific integrity there is top-notch. 

    Rep. Smith’s actions raise alarms in the scientific community, especially when taken in conjunction with his other recent actions targeting scientists. In sum, Rep. Smith’s actions serve to intimidate scientists studying the climate. What’s especially disturbing in this case, is that the Chairman is now employing intimidation tactics that have until now been reserved for the tobacco industry, front groups and the like. This is a troubling trend and one that should be watched closely.

NOAA scientists collect temperature observations from land and sea all over the world. To make these measurements comparable to detect trends over time, scientists need to adjust for differences in temperature readings from buoys, ships, urban and rural areas, among other factors. Photo: NOAA


Letter From: Eddie Bernice Johnson
Ranking Democrat Member
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology

To: Lamar Smith
House Committee on Science, Space and Technology
October 23, 2015


Lamar Smith Extends Exxon Subpoena Campaign to Include SEC
By David Hasemyer | September 29, 2016

Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who has been pursuing documents from the attorneys general of New York and Massachusetts over their climate fraud investigations into ExxonMobil, has now set his sights on the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Smith, chairman of the House Science committee, asked the federal financial regulatory agency to provide documents related to its investigation of Exxon.

Saying the committee was "troubled" by the commission's investigation, Smith requested SEC chair Mary Jo White provide information about the purpose, scope, and origin of the agency's inquiries  into Exxon's climate disclosures. …


Congressional Climate Witch Hunt Reaches an Impasse
by Leon Kaye on Tuesday, Aug 23rd, 2016

Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chair of the House Science Committee, has used his position to demand emails and documents from state attorneys general and environmental NGOs as a response to their investigation of ExxonMobil. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and the Union of Concerned Scientists are amongst the parties involved. They allege ExxonMobil suppressed climate change science, researched by the company’s own staff scientists over 30 years ago and Rep Smith has requested email logs from the accusers.

NGOs including and Greenpeace have pushed back, claiming that Smith’s subpoenas amount to federal overreach and have an ulterior agenda of interfering with their researchers’ work. In the latest twist of events,’s outside counsel requested a meeting with the Science Committee last month to discuss the subpoena and issues related to climate change science. According to, however, the request to meet Smith and the committee has been denied.

According to attorney Abbe David Lowell, congressional committees, including Science, have required a full committee vote or at least the consent of the ranking member before issuing subpoenas. In Lamar’s investigation, however, this has not been the case. The ranking minority member of the committee, Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas), has long been critical of Smith’s tactics, which NGOs describe as a fossil fuel-funded vendetta against environmental organizations.

Smith’s refusal to engage in any discussion with the 17 attorneys general investigating ExxonMobil, or any NGOs involved in this legal fight, comes in the wake of what scientists have said is the hottest month in recorded human history.


The House Science Committee’s Witch Hunt Against NOAA Scientists
Michael Halpern  , Deputy Director, Center for Science and Democracy | October 23, 2015

We have long been suspicious of the House Science Committee’s expanded subpoena power. The evidence now demonstrates that the committee is using this new authority not to conduct effective oversight but to harass those who produce robust scientific analysis it refuses to accept.

The committee is harassing individuals, launching an investigation into the actions of a climate scientist who, in the words of my colleague Andrew Rosenberg, had the “temerity to express his views that fossil fuel companies should be held accountable for climate change.” Although subpoenas have not been formally issued, an investigation has begun.

The committee is now stepping up its harassment of government agencies. On October 13, the committee subpoenaed nearly seven years of internal deliberations and communications among scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including “all documents and communications” related to NOAA’s measurement of our climate.

“All documents and communications” would presumably include emails, preliminary drafts, peer review comments, notes,  audio recordings, and a treasure trove of other material. This would mean thousands upon thousands of records for employees to identify and go through and analyze for no clearly stated purpose.
NOAA was given two weeks to comply. …


Scientists Slam Lamar Smith’s NOAA Witch-Hunt
by Martin Longman | November 25, 2015


… A Lesson in Constitutional Illiteracy: Lamar Smith and the Climate Science Witch Hunt
Posted on July 21, 2016 by admin

On September 17th of 2014, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology voted 4-3 to grant subpoena powers to the Committee Chair, useable without consultation of the Committee as a whole. This extraordinary power became available for the first time during the current Congress, with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) serving as Committee Chair. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) expressed concerns about the potential abuse of this power in January of 2015. This summer, the concern has been justified.

Congressional committees have inherent subpoena power as a part of their Constitutional power to investigate. Committees create their own rules for how subpoenas are issued; they are entitled to endow the Committee Chair with that power individually, if they so choose. The number of committee chairs with unilateral subpoena powers increased significantly in the past two Congresses, raising questions about fairness and transparency. As the current instance demonstrates, unilateral subpoena power can also lead to Constitutional questions of states’ rights and federal overreach.

On July 13 of this year, House Science Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) issued subpoenas to the Attorneys General (AGs) of New York and Massachusetts, and eight NGOs, including UCS, demanding documents and correspondence related to the investigation of the Exxon Mobil Corporation’s use or misuse of climate data. The subpoenas represent an unconstitutional intrusion by the federal government into the state law enforcement arena.

The Chairman and other Republican members of the Committee have complained that the investigation has infringed on the First Amendment Free Speech rights of ExxonMobil. The statements of the Committee’s majority members imply that the goal of the AGs’ investigation is to suppress opposing views on climate science. However, the accusations completely misrepresent the nature of the AGs’ investigation: the science is not in question; the investigation is based on the fact that Exxon failed to report on its own scientific findings to its shareholders, and instead fueled skepticism and denial by downplaying or ignoring the consequences of climate change and its impacts on ExxonMobil stock value.

The science at the heart of the suit, generated by Exxon scientists, supports the almost-universally-accepted understanding that burning fossil fuels negatively impacts the environment and influences climate change. The company’s scientists began reporting these findings over forty years ago, and continued to reconfirm those conclusions well into the 1980s – at which time Exxon adopted the policy of supporting the climate science denial machine to create a debate on false premises, manufactured by a group of conspirators in the fossil energy industries. This has been accomplished through the funding of organizations that deal in denial, and through exaggerating the uncertainty and downplaying the risks associated with anthropogenic climate change.

The denial campaign’s success can be measured by the fact that the majority of Representatives on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology contend that climate change is not a real thing. …


Lamar Smith, climate scientist witch hunter
Wednesday 11 November 2015

…, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) seems intent on taking up the mantle of Witch Hunter by harassing the scientists at NOAA. These scientists published a study that joined a growing body of research debunking the supposed “pause” in warming, a trope regularly trotted out by deniers looking to argue against climate action.

In his capacity as Chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Smith has demanded a number of documents from NOAA and threatened them with prosecution if they don’t comply. He’s asking for the data and methods related to the study itself, which doesn’t sound too unreasonable at first. But when you learn that this information is already public, it seems odd that he would want to waste his and the scientists’ time demanding information that anyone with an internet connection can freely access.

Another odd factor is that NOAA scientists already took time out of their busy schedules of doing actual science to personally explain the study to Smith. But all this wasn’t enough for him, so he is also demanding all the scientists’ study-related email correspondence. Smith is spending all this time, energy, and taxpayer money to chase these scientists around because he is a conspiracy theorist, and has publicly espoused the belief that scientists are deliberately manipulating the temperature record to manufacture the climate crisis. This unusual position might be related to the massive quantities of oil and gas industry funding that he receives—in 2014; Smith got more money from fossil fuels than he did from any other industry. …


Lamar Smith's Climate Views Win Flat Earth Award
BY Jordan Rudner | Dec. 7, 2015

Christmas elves, pirates and scientists gathered Monday to present climate change skeptic U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, with a fake award from the “Flat Earth Foundation of Texas.” 

For the last six months, Smith has been sparring with NOAA head Kathryn Sullivan over the methodology of a study agency scientists published in the journal Science in June. The study found that a widely publicized “lull” in the rate of global warming, a cornerstone of conservative arguments against climate change related policies, resulted from faulty statistical methods.

Smith, who chairs the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, alleges that the scientists did not consider all available data in reaching that conclusion, and he’s issued a subpoena for all emails and data surrounding the study….

…“Climate reports from the [United Nations] — which the Obama administration consistently embraces — are designed to provide scientific cover for a preordained policy. This is not good science,” he wrote, adding that a “central objective” of the negotiations was “the redistribution of wealth among nations.”

Smith is using a similar argument to cast doubt on the NOAA study — (Smith) says the study’s findings overlook data collected from satellites and should be considered akin to “science fiction.”

Scientists have rallied to defend Sullivan and the study’s integrity. Michael Halpern, program manager for the Center for Science & Democracy, condemned Smith’s subpoena as a “witch hunt” that should be considered harassment against government agencies.

U.S. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Dallas — the ranking Democratic member on the House committee — echoed Halpern's accusations in a scathing open letter to Smith. …

;- )

USA, We The People NEED YOU
A healthy democracy demands an informed and engaged citizenry.  Time to Step Up.

Published on Dec 7, 2015

Texas Campaign on the Environment, the Texas Drought Project, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition and the Global Climate March Coalition, together with representatives of many additional Austin environmental groups, rallied outside Congressman Lamar Smith’s office, 2211 S. IH 35, at 12:15PM on Monday, December 7th, to protest his attacks on climate scientists and his refusal to acknowledge the reality of man-made climate change.

The colorful rally awarded Smith a “Flat Earth” award from a group made up of those wronged by Smith’s dismissal of climate truth—scientists, parents and their children and grandchildren, poor people around the world, and young people, all with an eye on the dismal future promised by climate chaos. Speakers highlighted the consequences of Smith’s attempt to silence the warnings of prominent scientists and point out the repercussions of his actions, worldwide as well as right here in Central Texas.

"GOP, you can't shoot the messenger, just because you don't like the message."

"GOP, you can not deny the science, just because you don't like the science."

Climate Myths sorted by taxonomy

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