This commentary originally appeared in the Washington Examiner on December 2, 2015.
Players play with an open hand when everyone's cards are laid on the table for all to see. This might be done as a teaching tool for those learning the game or to focus on strategy instead of secrecy. Regardless, everyone at the table knows where all the players stand.
Congressman Lamar Smith — chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology — believes the federal government should play with an open hand when it comes to data supporting the administration's environmental regulations — an issue he spoke candidly about during last week's Crossroads Conference hosted by our group the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Relying upon whistleblower information that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration altered data to get politically correct results on climate data, Chairman Smith has subpoenaed internal research underlying NOAA's June publication on global temperatures.
But, setting aside the politics, should a subpoena be necessary to see the government's raw and underlying data? No, this data should be open and available without coercion, especially on issues as important as the administration's Clean Power Plan environmental regulation.
The administration's refusal to provide its internal communications supporting the NOAA publication give credence to Chairman Smith's concern that the agency manipulated its data in order to rubber-stamp the CPP. For an issue that President Obama has identified as his top priority remaining in his administration and an issue that Sen. Sanders has linked to the rise of worldwide terrorism, one would think that all supporting data would be available not only for congressional review, but for review by all Americans.
As is becoming apparent, the administration refuses to show its hand because the objective science, raw data, and impartial methodology call into the question the justification for the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan.
Although the Earth's climate is affected by 22 climate drivers operating on varying time scale, the administration has declared that carbon dioxide is the culprit behind the alleged increase in worldwide temperatures. But to find CO2 guilty, the administration must find that a crime has occurred, i.e. that global temperatures are rising as more CO2 is released.
Chairman Smith has caught NOAA framing CO2 for a crime that it did not commit. Looking at temperature trends over the past 130 years of an overall warming cycle, it is apparent that despite the steepening rise in CO2 levels, Earth has experienced both warmingand cooling trends. In fact, while CO2 emissions have increased rapidly, the Earth's global lower troposphere temperatures have not warmed over the same decade and a half period. The 24/7 presence of atmospheric CO2 clearly is not having the same impact as some understudied natural factors.
Instead of CO2 cooking the Earth, Chairman Smith has caught NOAA cooking the books. Only 15 percent of NOAA weather stations meet minimum standards. Furthermore, almost half of NOAA temperature data is not from actual measurements but from fake data. A large part of the world does not have temperature-recording stations. For these rural areas, NOAA invents temperature data based upon the closest recording station, which may be several countries away. Presently, nearly 50 percent of reported temperature data is not taken from an actual measurement.
All of these concerns show why the administration should play with an open hand as it proceeds to the Paris climate summit. For the Clean Power Plan regulation, which is projected to causes double digit increases in electricity rates and require billions of dollars to implement, Americans are entitled to see all cards laid on the table.
The Honorable Robert Henneke is the director of the Center for the American Future at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.