Congressman Raúl Grijalva from Arizona, the top Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee lit a controversial explosion when he asked universities to hand over documents concerning grants, congressional testimony and other evidence connected to seven scientists who have given expert testimony at congressional hearings on climate change. Grijalva is following up on a NY Times report that disclosed that a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Wei-Hock “Willie” Soon received funding for his research from oil companies. Soon’s research cast doubt on the assertion that human activity is a main contributing factor to global climate change.
Three additional Democratic senators joined in the investigation, requesting from over 100 energy companies and trade groups information on how they spend their research funds.
The requests are being called a witch hunt by conservative lawmakers who say Grijalva has unleashed a “war on science” which is politically motivated. This reaction on the part of Republicans is a noticeable about-face for many of them; some of who were quite happy to see an equivalent probe into the research of a leading scientist who said climate change is due to human activity.
“Republicans went after amazing scientists doing honest and great work on climate change,” said a spokesman for Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who helped lead the Senate Democrats’ information request to the energy trade groups.
“What’s different here are some clear indications that the very same companies and trade groups who have been sowing doubt on climate change and stopping any sort of legislative action in Congress, also may have been participating in these ‘denial for hire’ operations where they would pay very specifically for results,” added Eben Burnham-Snyder.