CEI’s Chris Horner sends word of this development, via The American Spectator:
Last night the Competitive Enterprise Institute, through its outside counsel Gibson Dunn, filed its brief arguing against NASA’s rather scattershot and contradictory effort to dismiss our lawsuit requesting certain documents under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)(press release available here).
Our suit, CEI vs. NASA (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia), followed on the heels of ClimateGate, and a December 2009 Notice of Intent to Sue if NASA did not turn over certain records withheld since CEI sought them in August 2007 and January 2008 requests. That Notice was eleven months ago and, despite NASA offering some documents and admitting — temporarily — that certain others relating to the advocacy site used by NASA scientists, RealClimate.org were “agency records”, NASA then ceased its brief steps to comply with the transparency statute FOIA.
Despite NASA stonewalling CEI has already learned, for example, that NASA does not, contrary to widespread media and pressure group claims, have an independent temperature data set. Instead, as NASA told USA Today in an email, despite its serial, breathless press releases trumpeting some new temperature high, it actually is just a modeling office, which also (for unknown reasons, possibly extra attention and importance, or mere advocacy) cobbles together some US data from the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) with that of the Climatic Research Unit’s temperature history. You may recall how CRU withdrew its claim to a temperature history data set after ClimateGate led to an admission it actually lost its data.
Specifically, CEI’s FOIA suit seeks documents and emails relating to NASA’s temperature record, which NASA was forced to correct in response to criticism from a leading climate watchdog, Steve McIntyre. Those corrections destroyed NASA’s stance that U.S. temperatures have been steadily rising in recent years and returned 1934, not 1998, to being the warmest year on record. NASA refuses to give CEI the computer file they used to make these changes, whose title includes “Steve” and “alternate cleaning.”
CEI also seeks emails from NASA scientists using Real Climate.org on official time using official resources, often to advance what NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (its climate activist office) has decided is appropriate public advocacy.
In addition to uncovering the “Steve”/”cleaning” file, a few of the more interesting pieces of evidence expounded upon in CEI’s brief include:
Read the rest at The American Spectator
From the press release:
A few compelling questions and pieces of information:
- Why did NASA delete timestamps off the [realclimate.org] website? After CEI filed the FOIA seeking RealClimate emails, administrators at Real Climate deleted all timestamps on all of their postings, making it impossible to show they were made during work hours.
- NASA admits that it discovered 3,500 emails on the computer used by Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a taxpayer-funded NASA researcher who spends working hours running and writing for RealClimate. But NASA refuses to produce the emails.
- Why did NASA delay? NASA did not ask Dr. Schmidt to look for responsive records until 22 months after we sent them the FOIA and threatened to sue. It is highly likely relevant emails were destroyed during this period.
- Furthermore, NASA took more than 900 days to produce documents pursuant to CEI’s two 2007 requests. The agency took more than 700 days to produce records in response to CEI’s 2008 request. NASA does not explain these delays. FOIA requires that an agency produce responsive records within 20 days. Although agencies rarely meet that deadline, even for “complex” FOIA requests, NASA’s average processing time is under 100 days. In 2008, NASA processed complex requests in 82 days, on average. In 2009, it processed such requests in 89 days, on average.
CEI is represented by Andrew S. Tulumello of Gibson Dunn, which is handling the lawsuit pro bono.