U.S. Sen. Mazie K. Hirono is among 22 senators to express concern Monday that political bias is making its way to the U.S. Geological Survey, with new policies and restrictions.
In a letter to USGS director James Reilly, the senators cited a recent New York Times report that the USGS has decided to use climate models projecting the effects of climate change only through 2040 instead of the end of the century, the previously accepted practice. The letter was signed by 21 Democrats and one independent.
They questioned the decision, particularly when the data is used as the basis for many important planning decisions by local, state, and federal governments. In addition, the senators questioned new restrictions placed on USGS scientists to speak publicly about their research results without prior permission.
“This decision appears to be another in a long line of politically motivated moves within the Department of the Interior, and more broadly across this administration, to suppress climate change science,” the senators said in the letter.
The senators said the limits would conceal the impacts humans will face during the middle and end of the century time frame that were included in the most recent and fourth National Climate Assessment.
“Hiding this information from the American public not only paralyzes the ability to execute informed decision-making today to reduce future emissions impacts,” said the letter, “but would be further compounded by the administration’s intent to leave the ‘worst case scenario’ out of future assessments and their attempt to discredit this scenario in the NCA4.”
The assessment warned that if fossil fuel use continues unrestrained, the Earth’s atmosphere could warm by as much as 8 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, which would result in decreasing food production and negative impacts on public health.
The senators requested a response from Reilly by July 25. The letter was also signed by U.S. Sens Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tom Udall (D-N.M), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Angus King (I-Maine), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Ben Cardin (D-Md.).