Washington, D.C., November 10, 2010 — The Politico late Tuesday broke a story that the White House “rewrote crucial sections of an Interior Department report to suggest an independent group of scientists and engineers supported a six-month ban on offshore oil drilling,” according to a report by the Interior inspector general.
In response, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a free market, government watchdog group, called for the firing of White House Climate Czar Carol Browner.
“President Obama should fire Carol Browner for this manipulation of science,” said Myron Ebell, Director of CEI’s Center for Energy and Environment.
“President Obama has talked about the importance of ‘ensuring scientific data is not distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda,’ and claimed that his administration would ‘make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,’” said Ebell. “Unless that’s dishonest rhetoric, President Obama must fire Browner for distorting and concealing scientific data to serve a political agenda.”
Browner reportedly sent two edited versions of the Interior Department report on offshore drilling back to the department on May 27. “The language had been changed to insinuate the seven-member panel of outside experts – who reviewed a draft of various safety recommendations – endorsed the moratorium,” Politico reported, citing the Interior Inspector General report.
KEY QUOTES & FACTS ON OBAMA ADMINISTRATION SCIENCE POLICY
President Obama at inauguration: “We will restore science to its rightful place.”
President Obama on March 9 rollout of pro-stem cell exec order: “It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”
Background to Office of Inspector General report:
• May 27: In wake of Deepwater Horizon disaster, Department of Interior extends offshore drilling moratorium 6 months; DOE issues an attendant report, “Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf.”
• According to the Executive Summary of the report (“Increased Safety Measures for Energy Development on the Outer Continental Shelf”), “The recommendations contained in this report have been peer-reviewed by seven experts identified by the National Academy of Engineering.” The clear implication was that the peer review panel approved of the moratorium. Yet, as noted by the OIG, “the proposed moratorium had not been discussed with the peer reviewers prior to the issuance of the Report.” So where did the implication come from?
• “At 2:13 a.m. on May 27, 2010, [Carol] Browner’s staff member sent an email…that contained two edited versions of the Executive Summary…Both version, however, revised and re-ordered the Executive Summary, placing the peer-review language immediately following the moratorium recommendation causing the distinction between the Secretary’s [Interior Secretary Ken Salazaar’s] moratorium recommendation—which had not been peer-reviewed—and the recommendations contained in the 30-day Report—which had been peer-reviewed—to become effectively lost.”
• That’s why, “The OIG determined that the White House edit of the original DOE draft Executive Summary led to the implication that the moratorium recommendation had been peer-reviewed by the experts.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute is a non-profit public policy organization dedicated to advancing the principles of limited government, free enterprise, and individual liberty.