Some states balk at records request
Pruitt pushes for government effort that critics say attempts to undermine established science 10 and D.C. won’t comply at all; many will only turn over part of what is sought by panel
The Trump administration is debating whether to launch a governmentwide effort to question the science of climate change, an effort that critics say is an attempt to undermine the long-established consensus human activity is fueling the Earth’s rising temperatures.
The move, driven by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, has sparked a debate among top Trump administration officials over whether to pursue such a strategy.
A senior White House official, who asked for anonymity because no final decision has been made, said that while Pruitt has expressed interest in the idea, “there are no formal plans within the administration to do anything about it at this time.”
Pruitt first publicly raised the idea of setting up a “red team-blue team” effort to conduct exercises to test the idea that human activity is the main driver of recent climate change in an interview with Breitbart
OKLAHOMA CITY» President Donald Trump is upset that all states aren’t fully cooperating with his voting commission’s request for detailed information about every voter in the United States.
Some of the most populous ones, including California and New York, are refusing to comply. But even some conservative states that voted for Trump, such as Texas, say they can provide only partial responses based on what is legally allowed under state law.
“Numerous states are refusing to give information to the very distinguished VOTER FRAUD PANEL. What are they trying to hide?” Trump said in a tweet Saturday.
Given the mishmash of information Trump’s commission will receive, it’s unclear how useful it will be or what the commission will do with it. Trump established the commission to investigate allegations of voter fraud in the 2016 elections, but Democrats have blasted it as a biased panel that is merely looking for ways to suppress the vote.
New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner, a Democrat who is a member of Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, defended the request Friday. He said the commission expected that many states would only partially comply because open records laws differ from state to state.
“If only half the states agree, we’ll have to talk about that. I think, whatever they do, we’ll work with that,” said Gardner, adding that the commission will discuss the survey at its in early June.
“What the American people deserve, I think, is a true, legitimate, peer-reviewed, objective, transparent discussion about CO2,” Pruitt said in an interview with Breitbart’s Joel Pollack.
But officials are discussing whether the initiative would stretch across numerous federal agencies that rely on such science, according to multiple Trump administration officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who once described the science behind human-caused climate change as a “contrived phony mess,” also is involved in the effort, two officials said.
The idea, according to one senior administration official, is “to get other federal agencies involved in this exercise on the state of climate science” to examine “what we know, where there are holes, and what we actually don’t know.”
Other agencies could include the Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the White House’s Office of July 19 meeting.
He said he has received calls from unhappy constituents who said they didn’t want Trump to see their personal information.
“But this is not private, and a lot of people don’t know that,” he said.
It’s not just Democrats bristling at the requested information.
Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, a Republican serving his third term, said in a statement he had not received the commission’s request. If he does receive it? “My reply would be: They can go jump in the Gulf of Mexico, and Mississippi is a great state to launch from,” he said. “Mississippi residents should celebrate Independence Day and our state’s right to Science and Technology Policy and NASA, according to the official, all of which conduct climate research in some capacity.
A plethora of scientific assessments over the years have concluded that human activity — such as the burning of fossil fuels — is driving climate change, and it poses grave risks both to the environment and to human health. In its most recent report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that it is “extremely likely” that, since the 1950s, humans and their greenhouse gas emissions have been the “dominant cause” of the planet’s warming trend.
But that conclusion, shared by the vast majority of experts in the United States and around the world, has done little to stop Pruitt, Perry and other administration officials from raising doubts.
The idea of a “red-team blueteam” exercise stems in part from a Wall Street Journal commentary by New York University professor Steven Koonin. E&E News on Friday reported that Pruitt intended to formalize the “red team, blue team” effort to challenge mainstream climate protect the privacy of our citizens by conducting our own electoral processes.”
In a federal court case after a contentious U.S. Senate primary in Mississippi in 2014, a group called True the Vote sued Mississippi seeking similar information about voters. Hosemann fought that request and won.
No state election official planned to provide the commission with all of the information requested — even Kansas, where commission vice chairman Kris Kobach is secretary of state.
Officials in 10 states and the District of Columbia said they would not comply at all with the request. Those states are California, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, science. But should Perry and other agency leaders join the effort, the move would embed the Trump administration’s approach to climate science across the government in a very public way.
Kelly Levin, a senior associate with the World Resources Institute’s major emerging economies objective, wrote in a blog post last month that the kind of adversarial process Pruitt is advocating is better suited for policy debates than for scientific findings. Scientific arguments, she wrote, are mediated through a peer-review process in which experts in the same field evaluate one another’s work.
“Scientific understanding, unlike proposals for what to do about a given problem, is well established through the scientific method,” wrote Levin, noting that 97 percent of peer-reviewed papers on climate change support the idea that humans play a contributing factor. “If skeptics want their voices heard in scientific discourse, they should try to get their findings published in the peer-reviewed literature. They would then be assessed on their merits through peer review.” Mississippi, New Mexico, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.
Oklahoma will provide nearly all the commission’s request, save for one bit of information: Social Security numbers.
Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told The Denver Post Thursday that, under Colorado law, voter Social Security numbers won’t be provided but the state would provide any information already available to journalists, parties and the public under state open record laws.
The letter from the presidential commission gives secretaries of state about two weeks to provide the voter data and other information, including any evidence of fraud.