Congress’ Chief Climate Denier Lamar Smith and NOAA Are at War
This is not Congress vs Agency. Nor is it just a personal battle between a science committee head and an agency head steeped in science. It is not right vs left. It is right vs dangerously dead wrong.
Once upon a time the flat earth was an excuse to stay close to home. Way back when a Pope had to bow to astronomical reality and make the Gregorian calendar we have used since. Prayers did not change the seasons. The bible refused to serve as a reliable calendar. Dogma could not become date.
Today climate deniers serve the purposes of craven falsehoods for hire. The following shows a battle in that effort, and a needed one at that. The Tea Party has got to go.
AS WASHINGTON POWER plays go, the fight between Rep. Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Science Committee, and Kathryn Sullivan, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, fits a Capitol Hill narrative. Arguments over e-mails? Check. Subpoenas issued to federal staffers? Check. Allegations of cover-up and conspiracy by one side, claims of harassment and bullying by the other? Check.
The difference here is that this fight is about science, and in particular, how the government conducts basic scientific research into climate change—science that many elected members of the Republican party doubt even exists. It’s Benghazi, but for nerds.
During his 28 years in Congress—the last two as science chair—Smith, who represents the San Antonio area, has become de facto leader of the House GOP climate change skeptics’ caucus. He’s opponent-in-chief of air pollution rules from the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation’s foremost critic of the National Science Foundation’s peer-review process. In past battles, Smith has forced agency heads to turn over thousands of e-mails and other documents in search of malfeasance, misspent funds, or corruption. He has never found any of those things.
This time, the object of Smith’s ire is an astronaut, veteran of three missions, the first American woman to walk in space (during a 1984 shuttle mission), Navy captain, PhD geologist, and former science museum director. Kathryn Sullivan, in other words, is tougher than you.