CDC Climate Office Reorganized and Staff Reassigned
On December 20, 2018, the New York Times reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had merged its Climate and Health Program office with the office of its National Asthma Control Program. According to the report, the merger was undertaken as part of a broader reorganization of the CDC’s Environmental Health Division, which halved the number of program offices.
The Climate and Health Program was established in 2009 to, among other things, identify populations vulnerable to climate change and prepare for the anticipated health impacts thereof. It is unclear how, if at all, the Program’s work will change following the merger.
As part of the merger, the former head of the Climate and Health Program, Dr. George E. Luber, was reassigned to the CDC’s waterborne diseases unit. According to media reports, the CDC had previously sought to dismiss Dr. Luber, but later withdrew the dismissal notice issued to him. Lawyers for Dr. Luber alleged that the dismissal notice was issued after he objected to changes to the Climate and Health Program and refused to stop discussing its work. According to the lawyers, CDC officials had hoped to reach a “gentlemen’s agreement” with Dr. Luber to keep the Program “below the radar,” but he refused to comply. When asked about the allegations, a CDC spokesperson said the agency would not comment on a personnel matter.
On January 9, 2020, BuzzFeed News reported that Dr. Luber was removed from his position as head of the Climate and Health Program due to inappropriate behavior. The report does not, however, address the broader reorganization of the Environmental Health Division or explain why the Climate and Health Program office was merged with the National Asthma Control Program office.