NOAA Sued For Documents 'Withheld' In Climate Data Scandal

NOAA Sued For Documents 'Withheld' In Climate Data Scandal

NOAA Sued For Documents 'Withheld' In Climate Data Scandal

Judicial Watch announced today that it filed a lawsuit on December 2, 2015, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking records of communications from National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) officials regarding methodology for collecting and interpreting data used in climate models (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Commerce (No 1:15-cv-02088)). The lawsuit sought the same documents unsuccessfully subpoenaed by a House committee.  Less than week after Judicial Watch served its lawsuit on NOAA, the agency finally turned over the targeted documents to Congress.

Judicial Watch sued the Department of Commerce after the agency failed to respond to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request submitted on October 30, 2015 – NOAA is a component of the Department of Commerce.  The timeframe for the requested records is October 30, 2014, through October 30, 2015, and requests all documents and records of communications between NOAA officials, employees, and contractors regarding:

  • The methodology and utilization of night marine air temperatures to adjust ship and buoy temperature data;
  • The use of other global temperature datasets for both NOAA’s in-house dataset improvements and monthly press releases conveying information to the public about global temperatures;
  • The utilization and consideration of satellite bulk atmospheric temperature readings for use in global temperature datasets; and
  • A subpoena issued for the aforementioned information by Congressman Lamar Smith on October 13, 2015.

Judicial Watch is investigating how NOAA collects and disseminates climate data that is used in determining global climate change. NOAA collects data in thousands of ways – from temperature gauges on land and buoys at sea, to satellites orbiting Earth.  Considered the “environmental intelligence agency,” NOAA is the nation’s leading collector of climate data.  In July, Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) asked NOAA for both data and internal communications related to a controversial climate change study.  After the agency refused to comply with the document request, Smith’s committee issued a subpoena on October 13According to the Science, Space, and Technology Committee:

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. Smith subsequently sent a letter on December 1st offering to accept documents and communications from NOAA political, policy and non-scientific staff as a first step in satisfying the subpoena requirements.

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.

Judicial Watch sued the agency on December 2 and served the complaint on the agency on December 8.  Less than a week later, on Tuesday, December 15, NOAA finally began to turn over documents to the House committee.  That same day, NOAA called and told Judicial Watch that it would begin searching for documents responsive to Judicial Watch’s FOIA request.

 

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