Breaking: Climate science “denier” Harrison Schmitt out as head of NM energy department

Harrison Schmitt, a former NASA astronaut who was chosen by Gov. Susana Martinez to head up the state’s Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department, has withdrawn his nomination after a squabble with the Senate Rules Committee over background checks.

The moonstruck moonwalker refused the state-mandated background check and that was that.  While I’m sure his replacement will also be a science denier, Schmitt was such an extremist everyone in and out of NM should be delighted by this:

The withdrawal was unexpected and essentially unexplained:

Schmitt, who’s also a former U.S. senator, faced a bumpy confirmation process in the state Senate due to his outspoken views on climate change and other subjects. However, few people, if any, expected him to withdraw his nomination.

Here’s a statement from Martinez that attempts to explain the situation:

“Senator Schmitt was willing to allow a private investigator access to his personal information, but he was not willing to waive that investigator’s liability for any improper actions or use of that information. While one can understand Senator Schmitt’s concerns, complying with the Legislature’s request is necessary to restore public confidence in state government. That’s why I am requiring all my cabinet secretary designees to comply with that request and this has led to Senator Schmitt withdrawing his nomination.”

Schmitt, meet the bottom of a bus, courtesy of the Governor.

While I do think his replacement will also be a pro-pollution science denier, I’m guessing Martinez  will be looking for someone who is a tad more earthbound….

23 Responses to Breaking: Climate science “denier” Harrison Schmitt out as head of NM energy department

  1. David B. Benson says:


  2. Scrooge says:

    I like to think that blogs like this one helped to bring him down. We all want to feel useful. Any way you look at this you can see progress made.

  3. Villabolo says:

    It’s another fine day in the neighborhood! :-)

  4. Artful Dodger says:

    Well done, Dr. Romm!

  5. Len Conly says:

    Prince Charles has spoken out against “climate sceptics.”


    BBC News
    9 February 2011
    Prince Charles: Climate sceptics gamble with the future

    The Prince of Wales has hit out at climate change sceptics for what he calls the “corrosive” impact they have on public opinion.

    I would ask how these people are going to face their grandchildren and admit to them they failed their future.”

  6. Zetetic says:

    He was kicked for refusing a background check?…… That’s very interesting (assuming that’s what actually happened).

    I wonder what it was? Was he was afraid of something being dug up? Was it for other political reasons? Or was it just garden variety paranoia?

    Either way, good riddance!

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Oh, he’ll be OK. Rupert will offer him a job at FoxNews as ‘environmental consultant’ or ‘climate change reporter’ or something. Perhaps a Presidential bid is not out of the question.

  8. Prokaryotes says:

    More Light…

  9. John Mason says:

    Perhaps he might make use of his newly-found spare time: an entry-level course in basic scientific principles would not be a bad place to start!

    Cheers – John

  10. TGriz says:

    Maybe there is a god after all!? Good news…but out for the wrong reasons. Oh, to live in a world where idiots are marginalized, as they should be, and cannot find meaningful work.

  11. Prokaryotes says:

    Yet Another Bombshell

    ThinkProgress has learned that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the big business trade association representing ExxonMobil, AIG, and other major international corporations, is working with set of “private security” companies and lobbying firms to undermine their political opponents, including ThinkProgress, with a surreptitious sabotage campaign.
    According to e-mails obtained by ThinkProgress, the Chamber hired the lobbying firm Hunton and Williams to spearhead this effort. Hunton And Williams’ attorney Richard Wyatt, who once represented Food Lion in its infamous lawsuit against ABC News, was hired by the Chamber in October of last year. To assist the Chamber, Wyatt and his associates, John Woods and Bob Quackenboss, hired a set of private security firms — HB Gary Federal, Palantir, and Berico Technologies (collectively called Team Themis) — to develop tactics for damaging progressive groups and labor unions, in particular ThinkProgress, the labor coalition called Change to Win, the SEIU, US Chamber Watch, and

    According to one document prepared by Team Themis, the campaign included an entrapment project. The proposal called for first creating a “false document, perhaps highlighting periodical financial information,” to give to a progressive group opposing the Chamber, and then to subsequently expose the document as a fake to undermine the credibility of the Chamber’s opponents. In addition, the group proposed creating a “fake insider persona” to “generate communications” with Change to Win. View a screenshot below …

    Can you say criminal investigation

  12. Prokaryotes says:

    Chamber of Commerce caught red-handed scheming to entrap SEIU, ThinkProgress, others by leaking fake stories to them and then slandering them. In a fair world, this would get 100 times the press of “ClimateGate”

  13. Joan Savage says:

    I’m trying to refrain from dumpster diving for more information on Schmitt. For the record, Schmitt didn’t refuse the background check itself, he refused to sign a waiver that would hold harmless what the detective might do with the findings!

    [JR: He refused the check everyone else agreed to.]

    Thanks to Prokaryotes for highlighting the hot news on the Chamber.
    Primary source of report is at

    Thinkprogress is associated with climateprogess.

  14. Joan Savage says:

    Ok, grant me that his excuse was the waiver. We don’t know what could have made him so skittish.

    Even now that he is off the bus, the energy research at national labs in New Mexico is still bound to be affected, plus or minus, by the upheaval in federal funding. NM is going to need someone with connections, other than Schmitt, to compete with Mo Brooks (Alabama, missiles) and Fred Upton (Michigan, automobiles).

  15. Lou Grinzo says:

    Prediction: The next nominee will be just as much a denier as Schmitt is, but without a paper trail.

  16. Bruce says:

    Sounds like the refusal of a background check is his way of backing out of embarrassing hearings.

  17. Scrooge says:

    I have to think that it was an excuse to quit and trying to save face. He has been through the process before. I do believe security clearance investigations should be kept private or we would be to limited on the number of people that would even try for the jobs.

  18. Ted Gleichman says:

    I certainly share everyone’s schadenfreude here, but the real opportunity is to give NM scientists and progressives a bit more time for a teachable moment.

    Community organizing and media outreach are slow, difficult jobs, and Schmitt’s low-grade self-destruction enhances both opportunities.

    Those with New Mexico ties (sadly, not including me) should train their laser pointers on appropriate local foreheads.

    Community organizers should assist the rational state senators with grass-roots tactics around the climate-destruction inevitabilities and likelihoods for The Sunshine State. And the mainstream media there may pay more attention to the new nominee, simply because of this Schmittstorm dynamic.

    I predict that Governor Martinez will seek a bland “moderate” businessperson with little public record, but an issue-focused campaign against climate-denial can help energize the NM activists for the future traumas we all face.

  19. spacermase says:

    @17 it could be that, or it could just be that Schmitt is already more than a little paranoid (I mean, he already believes that global warming is some sort of global conspiracy), and therefore doesn’t want Them doing a background check and perusing his personal records.

    Probably a combination of both.

  20. Jim Groom says:

    My first thought after reading the headline was ‘one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’ Perhaps Schmitt’s withdrawal is just such a small step toward truth. Then again, I just might be fooling myself as usual. Most likely the next name put forth will have the same credentials and world-view.

  21. dhogaza says:


    He was kicked for refusing a background check?…… That’s very interesting (assuming that’s what actually happened).

    I wonder what it was?

    What it was he was afraid would be uncovered?

    Isn’t it obvious? As a supposed moon walker, he *knows* the moon landings were hoaxes, and that his supposed moon walk was filmed on a set.

    Knowing that the moon landings were hoaxed is what led him to believe that everything else NASA does, including climate research, is also a hoax.

    Geez, I thought that would be obvious :) :)

  22. PurpleOzone says:

    Sandia National Labs and Los Alamos Lab each have budgets over $2 billion, an asset to New Mexico. Both work on global warming. A climate change denier being head of NM’s Energy Dept. — how is this an asset to the state?

  23. PurpleOzone says:

    Harrison Schmitt joined the Board of Directors of the Heartland Institute last year.