DOE-Funded Research Paper Subject to Additional Review Due to Climate References

During the Obama Administration, the Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a $1.3 million grant to Dr. Noah Diffenbaugh, a climate scientist at Stanford University, for research on the links between climate change and extreme weather. Based on that research, Dr. Diffenbaugh authored a series of papers, including one which outlined a four-step framework for testing the extent to which climate change contributed to extreme weather events. The paper was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in April 2017. Following its publication, Dr. Diffenabugh was contacted by staff from DEO's Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, who expressed concern about certain terms used in the paper, including "extreme event attribution," and the references to Obama-era policies, such as the Clean Power Plan, Paris Agreement, and social cost of carbon. Dr. Diffenbaugh was informed that the paper would have to undergo additional review and may need to be edited to remove the acknowledgement of funding from DOE. Since Stanford University requires full disclosure of funding in papers, this would have prevented Dr. Diffenbaugh from publishing his work.

A second paper authored by Dr. Diffenbaugh, assessing how achievement of the Paris Agreement's greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets would affect extreme weather events, was also subject to additional review because it included "red flag words," such as Paris Agreement. Dr. Diffenbaugh was told that, if he wanted to publish the paper as drafted, he could not disclose that it was funded by DOE. After he refused, funding for his project was eliminated.

Dr. Diffenbaugh ultimately decided to publish the paper as drafted and disclose his funding sources. He was later notified that funding for his project would be eliminated.