Congress Committee Bars NOAA from Creating a Climate Service

 by Gina-Marie Cheeseman

 The NOAA asked congress for permission to create a “one-stop shop” for comprehensive information about climate change, called the NOAA Climate Service (NCS). Congress barred the NOAA from establishing the NCS a few weeks ago in a budget deal. The NCS would have been located within the NOAA’s offices, and wouldn’t have cost anything to create. Since it wouldn’t cost anything to create, why did Congress prevent it from being established?

 To answer that question, let’s go back a few months to a Congressional hearing last summer where NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco testified about the need for the NCS to be created. During the hearing, Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) told Lubchenco, “Our hesi­ta­tion is that the climate services could become little propaganda sources instead of a science source.” Perhaps the hesitation of Harris can be contributed to the $62,000 he received from the oil and gas industries during his three years in Congress, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. 

Reference: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/congress-nixes-national-climate service/2011/11/18/gIQAxYvIgN_story.html

Reference: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/industries.php?cycle=Career&cid=N00029147&type=I

 During the same hearing, Rep. Ralph M. Hall (R-TX) said that “certain climate services can provide value,” but worried that creating the NCS would “severely harm vital research at NOAA.” Hall received $648,645 fron electric utilities and $571,334 from oil and gas industries during his political career.

Reference: http://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cycle=Career&type=I&cid=N00005645&newMem=N

In a bit of irony, the NOAA’s administrator under Bush, Conrad C. Lautenbacher supports creating the NCS, and asked Congress to approve its creation this year.  The Washington Post points out that the “the Democratic-led Senate approved most of the climate service in its budget,” but “the Republican-led House approved none of it.” Unfortunately, the Republicans won.

 It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that Republicans are opposed to creating the NCS. Last spring, 31 House Republicans (and three Democrats) on the House energy committee voted in favor of a bill (H.R. 910) which would have amended the Clean Air Act to prevent the EPA from regulating greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The members of the committee who voted in favor of the bill have received a combined total of $343,750 from the Koch Industries, according to Grist, which averages to $10,000 each.

Reference: http://democrats.energycommerce.house.gov/sites/default/files/image_uploads/FinalHR910RollCall.pdf

Reference: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h910/show

Reference: http://www.grist.org/article/2011-03-15-house-committee-votes-to-deny-climate-change

 Not surprisingly, the bill passed the House, but languished in the Senate. Do you see a pattern here?

 What exactly would the NCS do? According to the NOAA’s website, it would “provide a “one stop shop for users across the nation in much the same way NOAA’s National Weather Service has been providing weather information and services for 140 years.” The NCS, the NOAA’s website states, would serve as “a comprehensive and integrated office responsible for NOAA’s climate science, data, information and services.” It would bring together the NOAA’s “existing climate assets including research labs, climate observing systems, modeling facilities, integrated monitoring systems and extensive on the ground service delivery infrastructure.”

Reference: http://www.noaa.gov/climateresources/qa.html

 As Desmogblog points out, the NOAA will “continue to compile data,” however, it will have to “the data out among its various branches, without a clear and concise methodology for interested parties to seek out this information.” Not a good way to fight what can be called the one of the greatest crises of our time.

Reference: http://www.desmogblog.com/congress-says-no-free-climate-service

 Photo: Flickr user, lowjumpingfrog


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