Waxman Presses Chairman Upton on Polluter Support for Climate Denier

House Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman is raising questions about the possible withholding of information by a key witness during a hearing on climate science.

In a letter to Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Waxman asks the Chairman to join him in looking into the information furnished by one of the nation’s shrillest professional climate science deniers, Patrick Michaels, regarding the sources of his funding. As Waxman notes, Michaels may not have been quite as forthcoming as he should have been regarding just how much support he gets from polluters:

“Dr. Michaels may have provided misleading information about the sources of his funding and his ties to industries opposed to regulation of emissions responsible for climate change.”

According to the letter, Michaels told the committee that only 3% of the $4.2 million of his financial support comes from fossil-fuel interests; but he told Politico this January that it was about 40%.

Waxman also notes in his letter that public records show Michaels has received significant funding from fossil-fuel interests that he did not disclose to the Committee.

It is worth mentioning that Dr. Michaels is also a senior fellow in Environmental Studies at the Cato Institute, the ultra-conservative think-tank founded by the ultra-conservative Koch brothers, whose funding backs a lot of the organizations working hard to peddle climate skepticism. Chairman Upton recently co-authored an oped with one of Koch’s most prominent front-groups, Americans for Prosperity, calling for abolishment of EPA’s ability to set standards to reduce carbon pollution.

UPDATE: In fact, the Koch Industries-Cato-Michael's connection is quite clear: In 2007 and 2008, the Claude R. Lambe Foundation - controlled by the Koch family and Koch executives - gave the Cato Institute $510,000 (and between 2004-2008 the Lambe Foundation gave $1.26 million to Cato.) The Cato Institute in turn gave Patrick Michael's New Hope Environmental Center $277,000 in 2007 and 2008.

This isn’t the first time that professional climate-deniers have been caught hiding their sources of fossil-fuel support. As Ross Gelbspan has pointed out, S. Fred Singer – who might be considered the granddaddy of climate science denial ,also misrepresented the funding he received from fossil-fuel interests, namely ExxonMobil.

As long as polluters have money to spend, we can expect there will be hired mouthpieces to trot out key messages on their behalf. At the very least, Congress should care enough about the quality of information from its witnesses to make sure to get to the bottom of Michaels’ fossil-fuel funding.