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Smith Responds to NOAA Obstruction

Nov 4, 2015
Press Release

Demands emails, interviews to understand agency’s decision
to alter temperature data to show warming


Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Kathryn Sullivan responding to the agency’s unjustified refusal to provide the Committee with documents related to the agency’s decision to alter historical climate data. After three letters requesting these documents, Chairman Smith issued a subpoena on October 13th  to obtain communications related to NOAA’s decision.

“To date, you have neither produced all documents responsive to the subpoena, nor invoked a valid legal privilege to justify withholding them,” Chairman Smith wrote.  “Your failure to comply with the Committee’s subpoena has delayed the Committee’s investigation and thwarted the Committee’s constitutional obligation to conduct oversight of the Executive Branch.  Furthermore, your failure to comply with a duly issued subpoena may expose you to civil and/or criminal enforcement mechanisms.”

Although NOAA failed to provide the Committee with any justification for withholding documents, a NOAA spokeswoman was quoted in the media saying that the agency’s “internal communications are confidential and not related to what Smith is trying to find out.” As such, NOAA reportedly does not intend to provide the Committee with communications.

In his letter, Smith wrote: “Contrary to NOAA’s public comments, it is not the position of NOAA to determine what is, or is not, responsive to the Committee’s investigation or whether certain communications are confidential.

“NOAA has failed to fully explain the conditions surrounding its process and procedures for adjusting upward temperature readings that eliminated the ‘pause’ in global warming.  Deficiencies in NOAA’s response to the Committee’s request raises serious concerns about what role officials at NOAA, including political appointees, had in the decision to adjust the temperature data and widely publicize conclusions based on those adjustments.”

The letter demands NOAA provide all of the documents covered under the subpoena by Friday November 6 and also requests that NOAA make several employees available for transcribed interviews with the Committee.

The full letter can be found HERE

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114th Congress