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The Bush administration diluted scientific evidence of global warming
The Australian
Robert Lusetich, Los Angeles correspondent
March 21, 2007

THE Bush administration diluted scientific evidence of global warming, one of its former high-ranking officials has admitted.

Philip Cooney, an oil industry lobbyist now working for Exxon Mobil, conceded during a congressional hearing yesterday that while he was chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality he watered down reports on the adverse effects of man-made emissions on the planet's climate.

"My sole loyalty was to the President and advancing the policies of his administration," Mr Cooney told the house government reform committee. He defended aligning supposedly independent scientific reports with the White House political view on the environment by saying the changes reflected a comprehensive 2001 National Research Council report on the issue.

That report, while firmly stating the case that the earth was being endangered by greenhouse gases, was unable to answer all questions on the causes of climate change completely, leaving room for those who believe environmentalists are overstating the case - the predominant view within the Bush administration and its friends in the business sector.

Documents released by Democrats yesterday revealed that in 2003 Bush administration officials made at least 181 changes to a plan to deal with climate change that were aimed at playing down the scientific consensus on global warming.

There were another 113 changes that made less of the human causes of climate change, and even changes made to herald potential benefits to higher temperatures.

"These changes must be made," according to a note in Mr Cooney's handwriting. "The language is mandatory."

The Environmental Protection Agency was so against Mr Cooney's alterations - saying they were "poorly representing the science" - that it chose to leave the entire section on climate control out of its 2003 State of the Environment report.

Committee chairman Henry Waxman said Mr Cooney's testimony was proof that there was a "concerted White House effort to inject uncertainty into the climate debate. It would be a serious abuse if senior White House officials deliberately tried to defuse calls for action by ensuring that the public heard a distorted message about the risks of climate change," Mr Waxman said.

Evidence was also shown that the highest public relations priority for Mr Cooney's former employer, the American Petroleum Institute, was to create uncertainty about warming.

Another Democrat on the panel, John Yarmuth, called Mr Cooney a spin doctor.

James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, also appeared before the committee, complaining that the Bush administration had attempted to prevent him from speaking out about the dangers of global warming.

"Scientific press releases were going to the White House for editing," he said.

"It's very unfortunate that we developed this politicisation of science. The public relations office should be staffed by expert appointees. Otherwise they become offices of propaganda."

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