State Department Scientist Prevented from Submitting Written Testimony to Congress
Dr. Rod Schoonover, a senior scientist at the U.S. Department of State, was reportedly prevented from submitting written testimony on the threats posed by climate change to the House Intelligence Committee. Dr. Schoonover’s testimony warned that “[a]bsent extensive mitigation factors or events, [there are] few plausible future scenarios where significant — possibly catastrophic — hard does not arise from the compounded effects of climate change.” That characterization was criticized by White House officials, including members of the National Security Council (NSC), who complained that Dr. Schoonover’s testimony was “not objective” and included “lots of climate alarm propaganda that is not science at all.” NSC senior director, William Happer, was particularly critical of the testimony, describing it as “propaganda . . . for the scientifically illiterate.”
According to media reports, following the NSC’s criticism, the White House Office of Legislative affairs directed Dr. Schoonover not to submit the testimony because it did not “jibe” with the administration’s position on climate change.
On June 11, 2019, the chair of the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, wrote to the assistant secretary of State for intelligence and research, Ellen McCarthy, expressing concern that the Trump administration had attempted to “manipulate, remove, and ultimately suppress the independent, objective analysis [Dr. Schoonover] planned to present before the Committee.” Representative Schiff requested a copy of Dr. Schoonover’s written testimony and information regarding why it was previously withheld from the committee.
On June 17, 2019, the chair of the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis, Brian Schatz, invited Dr. Schoonover to testify before the Committee on “the numerous ways climate change is currently affecting U.S. national security interests around the world and how to plan for future impacts.”
On July 30, 2019 Dr. Schoonover published an op-ed in the New York Times discussing this incident. He stated that while he was allowed to appear at the Senate Special Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing, he was only able to give a five-minute verbal summary of the 11 page written testimony and the written testimony was not entered into the official record. Following these events Dr. Schoonover chose to resign from his position.