Dem representative thinks climate scientists are getting funds from fossil fuel interests

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent out seven letters to universities around the country on Feb 24, demanding disclosure of funding from several climate scientists on suspicion that they’re receiving money from fossil fuel interests.

One such researcher is Roger Piekle, Jr., of the University of Colorado at Boulder. The university and its president, Bruce Benson, are actively trying to defend Piekle and his academic freedom. Rep. Grijalva’s letter requests that the university disclose not only his sources of funding, but all financial disclosure forms tied to his affiliation with the university.

According to the letter sent to Piekle’s institution, the pursuit of Piekle and other researchers stems from a suspicion that some of their funding is coming from the fossil fuel industry.

On his personal blog, The Climate Fix, Piekle says he has never received disclosed or undisclosed funds from fossil fuel interests or companies. Piekle claims that Rep. Grijalva knows this as well, because of his previously disclosed funding from other congressional testimonies, stating “I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically-motivated 'witch hunt' designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name.”

Piekle is that he does not consider himself a “climate skeptic.” He has in fact written a book calling for a carbon tax, defended the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the subject of disasters and climate change, and supported President Obama’s EPA carbon regulations.

The letter charges that “His 2013 Senate testimony featured the claim, often repeated, that it is “incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”

Since Rep. Grijalva’s letter, Pielke has moved his research away from climate issues.

The American Meteorological Society (AMS) is concerned that Grijalva’s letter is freezing the debate on climate change.

In a statement on Feb. 27, the AMS warned that “[p]ublicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources — and thereby questioning their scientific integrity — sends a chilling message to all academic researchers. Further, requesting copies of the researcher’s communications related to external funding opportunities or the preparation of testimony impinges on the free pursuit of ideas that is central to the concept of academic freedom.”

Dr. Piekle and Rep. Grijalva did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.

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