(credit: Ryan J. Reilly)

Over the past couple months, there's been an ongoing battle between Congressman Lamar Smith (R-Tex.), chair of the House Science Committee, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). After a June study published in Science concluded there was no evidence that global warming had slowed in recent years, Rep. Smith accused NOAA climate scientists of manipulating surface temperature data for political reasons.

Rep. Smith has subpoenaed the internal communications of those scientists despite being provided all the data, methods, and rationale behind the work. NOAA replied it does not intend to release e-mails between scientists.

On December 1, Rep. Smith changed tack in a letter reiterating his demands. The letter complained that NOAA’s objections had focused on his requests for scientists’ communications, when he was also requesting communications between other NOAA staff. So he modified his terms—he'd start with e-mails from elsewhere in NOAA. “In order to move the Committee’s work forward and to allow for further discussions on issues related to the subpoenaed communications about which the agency and the Committee disagree, the Committee is willing to accommodate NOAA and prioritize communications sent and received by non-scientific personnel,” the letter read. “However, this prioritization does not alleviate NOAA’s obligation to respond fully to the Committee’s subpoena.”

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