U.S. Senate Democrats Fault White House for Edited CDC Testimony
Democrats on Thursday rebuffed the White House's claim that testimony on global warming given before a congressional committee by CDC Director Julie Gerberding had been changed and sections had been removed because it was in conflict with the testimony of a scientific panel at the United Nations, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports (Hebert, AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/25).
Gerberding on Tuesday testified before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, saying climate changes, such as extreme heat waves, could threaten public health systems and require more preparedness in the U.S. and abroad.
The White House earlier this week confirmed reports that Gerberding's testimony had been edited by the Office of Management and Budget because Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Marburger and his staff were concerned that the statements were inconsistent with information released earlier this year by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (California Healthline, 10/25).
Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) on Thursday released a side-by-side comparison of the IPCC report and Gerberding's draft testimony (Whitney, McClatchy/Miami Herald, 10/26).
According to the AP/Newsday, Gerberding's original draft and the U.N. report "showed striking similarities." Both documents included concerns about heat stress on vulnerable populations, the likelihood of respiratory illnesses from higher levels of air pollution, the spread of waterborne infectious diseases and increased injuries from severe weather events, such as wildfires (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/25).
Gerberding's draft testimony was closer to the U.N. panel's report than the draft submitted to the committee, according to committee Democrats, CongressDaily reports (Friedman/Goode, CongressDaily, 10/26).
House Science and Technology Committee Chair Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) said the U.N. panel said that, with a one degree Celsius increase in global temperature, there will be increased "burden from malnutrition, diarrhoeal, cardio-respiratory, and infectious diseases; increased morbidity and mortality from heat waves, floods and droughts; and changed distribution of some disease vectors."
Gordon said, "This appears to support the deleted sections of Dr. Gerberding's testimony."
Boxer said, "This administration wants to downplay the threat global warming poses to the American people," adding, "Time and time again this administration has changed scientific reports that do not align with their position."
White House spokesperson Dana Perino said, "The draft information did not comport with ... the science that was in the [IPCC] report" (AP/Long Island Newsday, 10/25).
Jonathan Patz, an associate professor of environmental studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who has helped write several of the IPCC's reports, said, "The testimony nowhere overstepped any science," adding, "All of the issues she talks about are in the IPCC" (Young, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 10/26).
Gordon and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) have an ongoing investigation into the administration's efforts to stymie government findings on warming, CongressDaily reports. Gordon is planning to reintroduce a bill that would prevent "meddling with the assessments of government scientists."
Gordon said, "For years this White House has been engaged in an effort to censor important science from the climate change debate. ... Administration experts are trying to inform the Congress and the public about this (the danger of climate change), but the White House will not allow it" (CongressDaily, 10/26).