In what many observers see as a policy driven intervention by the government that places politics above science a White House official who was once the oil industryÃs point man in its fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in order to underplay links between such emissions and global warning. The official, Philip A. Cooney, is presently chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Prior to 2001, Mr. Cooney was "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute.
Internal documents including handwritten notes on drafts of several reports from 2002 and 2003 show that Mr. Cooney deleted or edited descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists and their supervisors. Many of these changes appear in the final reports and, whether subtly or otherwise, suggest there is doubt about findings the majority of climate experts agree are amply supported by the scientific proof. Mr. Cooney is an attorney with a bachelorÃs degree in economics. He has no scientific training.
The New York Times has obtained the documents in question from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistleblowers. An excellent article published on Wednesday in the Times sets forth many of the changes made by Mr. Cooney which have raised serious questions as to his, and the White HouseÃs, motivations and agenda in this matter. The White House has taken the position that the changes in question were part of the normal interagency review process.
The New York Times article quoted an anonymous senior scientist in the Environmental Protection Agency who stated that the kind of changes made by Mr. Cooney had a "chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration."