January 24, 2017

Grijalva, Whitehouse to Trump: Keep Climate Denying Industry Shill Away from NOAA

Washington, D.C. – Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) sent a letter to President Donald Trump today, urging him to remove a notorious climate change denier from his landing team at the Department of Commerce (DOC), which includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Kenneth Haapala, president of the oil industry funded Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) at the Heartland Institute, has spent much of the past decade sowing the seeds of doubt about legitimate, sound environmental science. Some highlights of his “work” include trivializing the damage caused by the 2010 BP oil spill, dismissing the threat of sea level rise to coastal Florida, and as recently as this month continuing to defend the debunked theory of a “pause” in global warming.

 “Donald Trump pledged to drain the swamp, but instead he’s filling it with swamp alligators like Ken Haapala,” said Whitehouse. “This man is an ardent climate change denier who dismisses carbon pollution as plant food. On the fossil fuel industry’s dime, he and his cronies at the Heartland Institute spend their days undermining sound environmental science and dreaming up stunts like tying belief in climate change to the Unabomber. Haapala shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near a federal agency responsible for the critically important ocean and climate research we rely on.”

“Ken Haapala is an example of the worst our country has to offer, not the best. The work NOAA does is too important to public safety and the economy to allow ideologues like him to meddle with the agency and its scientists,” Grijalva said. “Instead of inviting Haapala and his extreme, misinformed views into the Commerce Department, President Trump should serve him with a restraining order to stay far, far away from NOAA.”

Haapala is one of eleven individuals – ten of whom are white men – listed as members of the Trump’s landing team for DOC. NOAA, which makes up more than half of the DOC budget, is tasked with collecting, maintaining, and analyzing the data necessary to provide timely and trusted weather forecasts, develop accurate nautical charts, prepare for natural disasters, and sustainably manage fisheries and other coastal and marine resources. Climate science is a critical component of all of these efforts. Yesterday, NOAA announced that 2016 was the warmest year on Earth since 1880, surpassing the previous two warmest years, 2015 and 2014.

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