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A White House aide to President Bush has repeatedly altered government climate reports in order to diminish the link between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming according to a report in Wednesday's 'New York Times.'
The report indicates that Philip A. Cooney, who once worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute to fight against limits on greenhouse gas emissions, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate data found in official government reports. In some cases, Cooney reportedly altered the documents after they had been reviewed and approved by senior administration officials.
Cooney's official title is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality. That office is responsible for devising and promoting the administration's policies on environmental issues.
Cooney has no specific scientific training. He is an attorney with a bachelors degree in economics.
One example of Cooney's alterations published by 'New York Times' was an October 2002 draft of a summary of government climate research called 'Our Changing Planet.' Cooney changed the emphasis on a sentence by adding the word 'extremely.' The sentence was changed to 'The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult.'
In another report, Cooney crossed out an entire paragraph which projected the reduction of mountain glaciers and snow pack. The margin note left by Cooney explained that he was 'straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings.'
Rick S. Piltz, who resigned from the office that coordinates government climate research this past March told the 'New York Times,' 'Each administration has a policy position on climate change,' Piltz wrote. 'But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program.'
White House spokeswoman Michele St. Martin said that Mr. Cooney would not be available for comment. 'We don't put Phil Cooney on the record,' St. Martin said. 'He's not a cleared spokesman.'