Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today sent a follow-up letter to Department of Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker once again requesting that she direct NOAA to provide the Committee with all communications from political, policy and non-scientific staff at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as covered under the lawfully-issued subpoena dated October 13, 2015.
“NOAA has steadfastly refused to discuss the issue of communications relating to any NOAA official with the Committee,” Smith wrote. “To date, NOAA has not provided any legal argument justifying its refusal to comply with the Committee’s lawfully-issued subpoena, and the Committee continues to consider all available means to ensure agency compliance with its Constitutionally-obligated oversight responsibilities. NOAA’s refusal to enter good-faith negotiations with the Committee on the subpoenaed communications has severely impacted the Committee’s ability to fulfill its duties.”
The letter continues, “In order to move the Committee’s work forward and to allow for further discussions on issues related to the subpoenaed communications about which the agency and the Committee disagree, the Committee is willing to accommodate NOAA and prioritize communications sent and received by non-scientific personnel. However, this prioritization does not alleviate NOAA’s obligation to respond fully to the Committee’s subpoena.”
In June, NOAA widely publicized a study as refuting the nearly two-decade pause in climate change. After three letters requesting all communications from the agency surrounding the role of political appointees in the agency’s scientific process, Chairman Smith issued a subpoena for the information.
Information provided to the Committee by whistleblowers appears to show that the study was rushed to publication despite the concerns and objections of a number of NOAA employees. Smith’s letter today requests NOAA provide communications related to the study from all non-scientist employees by December 15, 2015.