U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Hearing Statements
Date:   09/28/2005
Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton
The Role of Science in Environmental Policy-Making

Mr. Chairman, I want to begin by echoing the comments of our Ranking Member, Senator Jeffords, who observed that the committee’s time and energy would be better spent working on Katrina response.

Having said that, I think we can all agree that science is an indispensable part of environmental policy making.

And clearly, that examining the proper role of science is policy making is a worthy subject for a hearing of this committee.

Unfortunately, I think this hearing is organized in a way that will muddy this issue rather than clarifying it.

First, the views of Mr. Crichton on climate change are at odds with the vast majority of climate scientists. More importantly, Mr. Crichton’s critiques of climate change science appear in a work of fiction. His views have not been peer reviewed. They do not appear in any scientific journal.

I won’t go through an assessment of Mr. Crichton’s critique point-by-point. However, I do want to submit for the record a document prepared by the Union of Concerned Scientists that rebuts Mr. Crichton’s primary arguments. In addition, I want to submit a document prepared by James Hansen, director of the Columbia University Earth Institute and Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In this document, Mr. Hansen details distortions of his climate change predictions made by Mr. Crichton.

Rather than focusing on Mr. Crichton’s testimony, however, I would like to make several broader points about environmental policy making and the record of this Administration.

Because I think that this Administration has taken politicization of science to new levels.

That’s not just my opinion, it’s the opinion of hundreds of prominent scientists. 49 Nobel laureates, 63 National Medal of Science recipients, 154 members of the National Academies and thousands of other scientists have signed a statement criticizing the Administration’s misuse of science.

I want to read a brief excerpt from that statement.


“When scientific knowledge has been found to be in conflict with its political goals, the administration has often manipulated the process through which science enters into its decisions. This has been done by placing people who are professionally unqualified or who have clear conflicts of interest in official posts and on scientific advisory committees; by disbanding existing advisory committees; by censoring and suppressing reports by the government’s own scientists; and by simply not seeking independent scientific advice. Other administrations have, on occasion, engaged in such practices, but not so systematically nor on so wide a front. Furthermore, in advocating policies that are not scientifically sound, the administration has sometimes misrepresented scientific knowledge and misled the public about the implications of its policies.

For example, in support of the president’s decision to avoid regulating emissions that cause climate change, the administration has consistently misrepresented the findings of the National Academy of Sciences, government scientists, and the expert community at large. Thus in June 2003, the White House demanded extensive changes in the treatment of climate change in a major report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To avoid issuing a scientifically indefensible report, EPA officials eviscerated the discussion of climate change and its consequences.”

End quote.

Mr. Chairman, I ask that the full statement be included in the record.