Lawmakers want probe in charge White House doctored climate change reports

Thu Jun 9, 4:20 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Two senior US lawmakers called for a congressional probe into charges the White House altered government documents to cast doubt on the generally-accepted scientific consensus about the causes and effects of global warming.

Representative Henry Waxman (news, bio, voting record) and Senator John Kerry asked the General Accountability Office (GAO) -- Congress' investigative arm -- to look into a recent whistleblower report that a former oil industry lobbyist altered government reports on global warming.

The allegations were reported Wednesday in the New York Times.

"We request that the Government Accountability Office investigate the extent to which White House officials and political appointees at federal agencies have interfered with federally funded science on global warming," said Kerry and Waxman.

"Unfortunately, the incidents reported by the Times are simply the latest in a pattern of interference with climate science by the Bush Administration," the Democratic lawmakers said.

The Times reported that a White House official with no scientific training edited government climate reports to play down the links between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, according to internal documents obtained by the daily.

Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, allegedly subtly altered documents, adding qualifiers like "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties" to give the impression of considerable doubt about the findings.

Cooney is a lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics and lacks scientific training, the daily said.

Before working at the White House in 2001, he was a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute and led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases, according to the Times report.