The Heat Is Online

Cooney Resigns After Altering Science Report

EDITOR OF CLIMATE REPORTS RESIGNS

The New York Times, June 11, 2005

 

Philip A. Cooney, chief of staff to President Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, has resigned, White House officials said. Mr. Cooney's resignation came two days after documents revealed that he had edited government climate reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures. Mr. Cooney has no scientific training. Dana Perino, a deputy White House press secretary, said the decision was unrelated to revelations about the documents. Mr. Cooney did not respond to e-mail or phone messages left  at his home.

 

 

Editor of Climate Reports Resigns

The New York Times, By Andrew C. Revkin, June 10, 2005

 

Philip A. Cooney, the chief of staff to President Bush's Council on Environmental Quality, resigned yesterday, White House officials said.

 

 

Mr. Cooney's resignation came two days after documents revealed that he had repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that cast doubt on the link between building greenhouse-gas emissions and rising temperatures.

 

Mr. Cooney has no scientific training. Dana Perino, a deputy White House press secretary, said Mr. Cooney "had long been considering his options following four years of service in the administration." Ms. Perino said the decision was unrelated to revelations about the documents. Mr. Cooney did not return e-mails messages or phone messages left at his home.

 

Ms. Perino noted that the documents in question dated from 2003.  

 

"He had accumulated many weeks of leave and had decided to resign and take the summer off to spend the time with his family," Ms. Perino said.

 

Before moving to the White House in 2001, Mr. Cooney, 45, was a lawyer for the American Petroleum Institute, the main lobby for the oil industry, and held the position of "climate team leader," in which he fought restrictions on greenhouse gases.  

 

The documents, first described on Wednesday in The New York Times, stirred reactions ranging from defenses of Mr. Cooney by oil lobbyists to strident criticism by environmental groups and satire from Jon Stewart on his comedy-news program "The Daily Show."

 

Most scientists and scientific groups, including the National Academy of Sciences in a letter released this week, have said the relationship between greenhouse-gas emissions and warming is clear enough to justify prompt actions by countries to curb emissions.  

 

Philip Clapp, the president of the National Environmental Trust, an environmental group in Washington, said the problem with White House treatment of the climate issue was broader than just one person.  

 

"His resignation is less surprising than the fact that the lead oil industry lobbyist on global warming should have been given this kind of power over climate science and scientists," Mr. Clapp said.

 

Myron Ebell, who for years has fought restrictions on greenhouse gases on behalf of groups with industry ties, said Mr. Cooney's actions were part of the normal adjustments to language in government documents to mesh them with policy goals.

 

"The idea that only scientists are able to deal with that is ridiculous," said Mr. Ebell, who currently directs climate policy for the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute. "Citizens have to be able to deal with these things and decipher them, too."  

 

He added, "This is a news story because the White House is so secretive, not because he did anything wrong."