This article is written from a democratic point of view.
Former Washington Journalist
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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A quartet of House Committee leaders have sent Donald Trump a letter expressing concern and raising questions over the reported formation of a secret climate change committee within the National Security Council (NSC).
The purported formation of this “secret” committee would be to counter the scientific consensus on climate change and question its impacts on the national security of the United States.
Trump has long been hostile to the scientific consensus of human-generated climate change, going so far as to begin effort to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords, aimed at reducing worldwide emissions of greenhouse gasses.
The letter was sent by Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), Natural Resources Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), and Science, Space, and Technology Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.).
“The decision to convene this NSC panel represents yet another action by your Administration in a line of many that run counter to the overwhelming scientific consensus on the causes and impacts of climate change,” wrote the four Democratic committee chairs. “Given the previous statements you have made that fly in the face of explicit scientific evidence and the findings of your own [Defense Department] and Director of National Intelligence, we have serious concerns about any effort to construct a secret committee to question the basic scientific fact of climate change.”
The letter also highlights concerns about the reported involvement of scientist William Happer, who appears to be leading the efforts to undermine the consensus regarding the national security implications of climate change, the congressional Democrats say.
“Dr. Happer does not have the qualifications to serve on a working group that should be composed of climate scientists, if it is to exist at all. Dr. Happer is an atomic physicist, not an expert on climate, and his statements on climate change have been repeatedly debunked by actual climate scientists,” the committee chairs continued.
The full text of the letter can be found here.
The involvement of Happer leading this effort is all the more puzzling since the Senate confirmed meteorologist Kelvin Droegemeier, in January, to the post of director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
The director of OSTP traditionally functions as a president’s science adviser and would typically oversee such an effort.
Particularly, in a case such as this, Droegemeier has the background of a meteorologist. Indeed, he is the first non-physicist to hold the OSTP director post.
Also, Droegemeier was confirmed two years into the Trump administration, a new record. Most presidential science advisers are in position much, much sooner.