Philip Cooney is the former chief of staff to President Bush’s Council on Environmental Quality who made hundreds of edits to government climate reports in ways that played down links between human activity and global warming. He worked for the American Petroleum Institute before coming to the Bush administration, and left the White House for Exxon shortly after his edits were revealed.
Cooney appeared yesterday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) told Cooney he wanted to determine whether what is “driving the policy of this administration on global warming and climate change is the science or whether it’s something called the politically correct science.”
Cooney admitted it was the latter: “My objective was to align these communications with the administration’s stated policy” of climate skepticism. Watch it:
If Cooney’s line of fixing facts around policy sounds familiar, it’s because it is a Bush administration classic, made famous by the Downing Street Memo on the White House’s pre-war planning:
C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime’s record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.
Mr. Cooney, I guess what we’re trying to figure out is whether what drove the policy and is driving the policy of this administration on global warming and climate change is the science or whether it’s something called the politically correct science.
And as I look at the edits that you’ve proposed, I think there were a…
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, while you’re looking for those, may I just ask some questions of the chair?
WAXMAN: Excuse me, the gentleman’s out of order.
(UNKNOWN): I think, Mr. Chairman, a point of order. Did you recognize yourself for an additional five minutes before the rest of the panel has a chance to question for five minutes?
WAXMAN: No, I did not.
I recognize Mr. Issa first for the second round. You proposed 181 edits to the strategic plan, 113 edits to the other global warming reports. There were three reports.
I guess what I’m trying to find out is whether all of your proposed edits moved in one direction, which was to increase the uncertainty in global warming science.
Would that be a fair statement or an unfair statement?
COONEY: I think the fair statement would be that my comments were aligned with the findings of the National Academy of Sciences in June 2001, as emphasized by the president in his policy book in chapter 3 on June 11th, 2001.
WAXMAN: Mr. Cooney, you had a senior position at the White House, but there were officials in the White House who were more senior to you. Your immediate boss was James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Was Mr. Connaughton aware of your role in the proposed edits for climate change reports?
COONEY: He knew that we were reviewing reports as they came in, ordinarily from OMB from review.
WAXMAN: Did he personally review your edits?
COONEY: No, not most of them.
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman…
WAXMAN: Would you discuss…
(UNKNOWN): Mr. Chairman, his boss is behind him and is available.
WAXMAN: Excuse, but I have the time. I didn’t interrupt you. I waited till you were finished and then I interrupted you.
Did you discuss the edits with him?
COONEY: No, not ordinarily.
WAXMAN: Did he give you any instructions about how any of these three documents should be edited?
COONEY: No. He understood that my objective was to align these communications with the administration’s stated policy.
WAXMAN: And the administration’s stated policy was different than what the scientists were saying in those documents?