Senate Democrats

Former White House Climate Change Official May Have Violated Federal Law Says Lawmakers

Reid and Lautenberg Call on GAO to Launch Investigation

WASHINGTON, DC – After reviewing federal statutes that prohibit obstruction of Congress and false statements, Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ) asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to determine the legality of actions taken by a former top Bush administration official who altered government scientific reports on global warming.

A former lobbyist for the American Petroleum Institute (API), Philip Cooney, was hired by President Bush as Chief of Staff of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) in 2001. He recently resigned his post to join ExxonMobil Corporation.

“Since the altered reports were requested by, and directed to, Congress, and were prepared by departments and agencies of the U.S. Government, we are seeking your legal evaluation of whether Mr. Cooney’s actions violated two laws,” wrote the lawmakers in their letter to Comptroller General David Walker. The specific laws are highlighted in detail in the letter.

“These alterations have severely harmed the integrity of U.S. Government scientific analyses, and the taxpayers who foot the bill for these doctored reports. We look forward to your analysis of the legality of these actions by Mr. Cooney,” concluded Lautenberg and Reid in their letter to Walker.

In addition, Lautenberg and Reid also wrote to the Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Dr. James R. Mahoney calling on him to immediately retract both of the reports edited by Mr. Cooney until the GAO concludes its investigation.

“Phil Cooney’s altering of scientific reports is yet another disturbing case of this administration abusing its power to serve radical, rightwing special interests,” said Senator Reid. “Congress and the American people need to be able to trust that scientific reports are based on science, not the partisan agenda of the current administration.”

“Government reports must be based on science, not science fiction,” said Lautenberg. “The Bush administration cannot ‘fix’ science around their political goals.”