US officials ‘edited out climate message’

A white house official edited evidence for the greenhouse effect out of government documents on hundreds of occasions, according to documents released by the US House of Representatives committee on Monday.

Philip Cooney, whose successive employers included the American Petroleum Institute, the White House Council on Environmental Quality and then Exxon Mobil, said that editing was a routine part of his job and that, while at the White House, his “sole loyalties were to the president and his administration.”

Mr Cooney’s hearing formed part of a wider investigation into alleged interference by the Bush administration into climate science.

Evidence was also heard from George C Deutsch III, formerly employed in NASA’s public relations, who had told press officers to exercise more influence over NASA’s top climate expert James Hansen.

Dr Hansen, who also testified, said: “During my career I have noticed an increasing politicisation of public affairs at headquarters level, with a notable effect on communication from scientists to the public.

“Interference with communication of science to the public has been greater during the current administration than at any time in my career. In my more than three decades in government, I have never seen anything approaching the degree to which information flow from scientists to the public has been screened and controlled as it has now,” he said.

While Democrats complained about a “systematic White House effort” to play down the effects of human emissions on climate, Republicans attacked people like Dr Hansen for trying to limit debate on climate change.

The hearings continue this week with Al Gore, former vice-president and Oscar-winning creator of the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” due to testify on Wednesday.

Goska Romanowicz

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