Numerous environmental officials from the Bush administration have taken jobs lobbying on behalf of the energy industry, and some are now working to undermine efforts at a global climate change deal in Copenhagen, says a new report from a government watchdog group.
Some members of the Bush White House’s environmental team “deliberately distorted critical scientific reporting on global warming” before taking jobs at oil, gas, mining and other energy companies, says a report (PDF) from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
“CREW identified at least 22 former Bush-era officials who have gone on to lobbying or government relations, 14 of whom are registered lobbyists,” the report states. “Through lobbying and industry-manufactured ‘grassroots’ activities, these individuals continue to influence and confuse the debate over global warming and hamper the efforts of the current administration to help establish a public consensus on this issue.”
The report notes that James L. Connaughton, the president’s chief environmental adviser throughout both of Bush’s terms, now works as a vice president at Baltimore-based power plant operator Constellation Energy.
And Connaughton’s chief of staff from 2001 to 2005, Philip Cooney, joined ExxonMobil “in an unknown capacity” after leaving the administration.
“Mr. Cooney resigned his position after reports surfaced that he edited several climate change reports to water-down and cast doubts on the links between human activity and climate change,” the report states. “Mr. Cooney, who has no science background, inserted numerous handwritten edits on climate change reports, changing the meaning of key phrases and whole paragraphs in government produced scientific research and reports, altering their conclusions.”
“Maybe it’s a little bit of a misnomer to call them environmental officials in the first place,” CREW executive director Melanie Sloan told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Monday night. “More like anti-environmental officials.”
Sloan said that two former Bush environmental officials have since worked for Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who is coordinating a “truth squad” that plans to go to Copenhagen “to try to undermine President Obama’s visit next week,” in Maddow’s words.
Sloan said that the Bush officials’ ties to energy companies are “not really a surprise” because “most of them were busy carrying the industry’s water while they were in the Bush administration in the first place.”
This video is from MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Dec. 7, 2009.