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Do You Even Science? 4 Things the House Science Committee Could Do Besides Defend Exxon

by Kelly Mitchell

October 27, 2016

Rep. Lamar Smith, the Republican Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee has been on a subpoena spree, demanding communications from state Attorneys General, environmental groups (like Greenpeace!), and even the Securities and Exchange Commission. Here’s what he could be doing instead.

Independent scientific researchers Sally Walker, left and Clifton Nunnally, both , work in their make-shift laboratory analyizing water samples collected by the CTD unit (conductivity, temperature and depth) aboard the Greenpeace ship, MY Arctic Sunrise, in the Gulf of Mexico.

In one group of subpoenas, Rep. Smith is demanding groups to hand over all internal communications related to their work to hold Exxon accountable for its decades-long campaign on climate deception — an attempt by the Congressman to protect Exxon.

His asks are unprecedented and legally dubious, but more than that, they are an epic waste of taxpayer money and time.

So today, instead of internal communications, Greenpeace and 350.org delivered news articles, reports and fact sheets detailing the history of climate denial. Perhaps the knowledge will inspire the Chairman to guide the Science Committee to more productive activities.

We have a few ideas.

1. Science

Hurricane Sandy

The science of climate change is only showing more alarming facts by the day. Arctic ice is receding. Global treasures like the Great Barrier Reef are on life-support. And communities are already suffering from the impacts of stronger storms, historic droughts, and vector spread diseases. These extreme weather events are so severe that the Pentagon has called climate change a “threat multiplier” and the Obama administration just ordered all national security agencies to consider climate change.

Yet, scientists are being harassed by a climate denial machine funded by the fossil fuel industry — the same one that has left millions of Americans confused and misled about the causes and severity of this crisis. It would be nice if the House committee dedicated to science played a positive role in elevating the most critical scientific issue of our time  — like helping to identify the most crucial questions for climate science or educating the public. Don’t you think?

(Hint: UCS has even created this handy Science Blueprint that Lamar could use).

2. Space

Image credit: NASA. This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star, disrupted as it was being devoured by a supermassive black hole.

Image credit: NASA. This illustration shows a glowing stream of material from a star, disrupted as it was being devoured by a supermassive black hole.

In case you didn’t know, space is awesome. Astronomers recently discovered that there may be trillions more galaxies than we thought. We’re getting closer to unpacking mysteries about the very nature of matter and the forces that govern it. Satellite technology is providing new data sets to measure our impact on the planet. We even discovered a planet orbiting the nearest star to our sun.

Plus Elon Musk might send someone to Mars.

Rep. Smith could be figuring out ways to fund space exploration, and share the resulting benefits with communities here on earth. But, you know, he’s too busy writing mean and ineffective letters to the Securities and Exchange Commission on behalf of ExxonMobil.

3. Technology

Solarize Charlotte Project Installation

Technology alone won’t solve the climate crisis — we need a radical shift in power — but it doesn’t hurt. The cost of solar panels, electric vehicles, and batteries have plummeted in recent years, making clean energy more accessible to homeowners and driving tremendous job growth.

In fact, the solar industry already employs more people than oil and gas extraction. Rep. Smith could be tapping the best innovators of our time and removing barriers to lower cost, higher efficiency renewable energy technology.

He’d rather be the lackey to an increasingly threatened and desperate fossil fuel industry.

4. Literally Anything Else

Surely he’s in need of a vacation?

TAKE ACTION: Demand a federal investigation into Exxon’s climate denial right now!

Kelly Mitchell

By Kelly Mitchell

Kelly Mitchell is the Climate and Energy Campaign Director for Greenpeace, based in Chicago. Since 2006, she has worked with activists and organizations across the country to confront corporate polluters and transform U.S. energy policy. She currently leads Greenpeace's campaign for an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy, pushing some of the largest companies in the world to embrace wind and solar and working alongside communities to develop a just and democratic energy system.

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