The Heat Is Online

State Forbids Legates From Using Title on Climate Statements

Delaware climatologist asked to stop using title in official capacity

Greenwire, Feb. 22, 2007

Delaware climatologist David Legates must stop using his title in any public statements on climate change, Gov. Ruth Ann Minner (D) said last week.

Legate's title was accepted by the American Association of State Climatologists and the National Climate Data Center and acknowledged in 2005 by Minner and the University of Delaware provost. Legates is also a geography professor at the university. His position as climatologist does not carry any official state authority.

Last year, Legates used the "State Climatologist" tag when he co-wrote a friend-of-the-court legal brief opposing an attempt by Delaware and other states to force the federal regulation of greenhouse gases. The brief was filed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Consequently, Legates' involvement in the brief was branded by an environmental group as an indication that he is "a favorite scientist of the global warming denial machine."

In a letter to Legates, Minner said his work with private groups and privately backed publications disputing climate change had "generated some confusion."

"Your views on climate change, as I understand them, are not aligned with those of my administration," Minner wrote. "In light of my position and due to the confusion surrounding your role with the state, I am directing you to offer any future statements on this or other public policy matters only on behalf of yourself or the University of Delaware, and not as state climatologist" (Jeff Montgomery, Wilmington [Del.] News Journal, Feb. 22).

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski (D) and Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (D) have also said that they do not wish to be associated officially with the views of their respective state climatologists.