A bill for climate data integrity: The Public Access to Historical Records Act

This just in from U.S. Senator David Vitter’s office here’s now the official press release:

For Immediate Release Contact: Joel DiGrado (Vitter) (202) 224-4623

December 8, 2010 Emily Lawrimore (Barrasso)  (202) 224-6441

Vitter, Barrasso Introduce Bill to Ensure Open, Accurate NASA Climate Data

(Washington, D.C.) – U.S. Sens. David Vitter and John Barrasso today introduced S. 4015, the Public Access to Historical Records Act, which would dramatically improve the transparency and accuracy of NASA’s historical records and guarantee public access to the data.

“Recent incidents, such as the investigation showing that the Obama administration manipulated data to justify the drilling moratorium, have raised concerns that some scientists and government agencies are using misleading data to support their favored viewpoints,” said Vitter.  “This bill would open NASA’s temperature records to public scrutiny and establish an objective set of data to ensure that influential climate research is protected from political agendas.”

“Each year, Americans are forced to spend billions of their hard-earned dollars to support climate change research.  Since this administration promised to be the most open administration in history, it should immediately share NASA’s temperature data with the American public,” said Barrasso.  “There are too many questions regarding temperature models not to allow all Americans access to this data.  This legislation will ensure that our nation has the most accurate and transparent historic temperature record in the world.”

The bill by Vitter and Barrasso is consistent with the Data Quality Act, which requires that scientific information from government agencies be accurate, clear, complete and unbiased.  The Public Access to Historical Records Act would require NASA and the National Climatic Data Center to immediately release relevant climate data that outside groups have long been attempting to review through the Freedom of Information Act.

The bill would also force NASA to make all of its raw historical temperature data available online to the public and would require the agency to compile an official U.S. historical temperature record with oversight from an independent council of appointed meteorologists and statisticians.  The resulting temperature record would be routinely reviewed for accuracy by an independent auditor and would be required for use as a primary source by any scientists or groups accepting federal money for climate research.

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The full bill as presented is available here Temperature-Records-Act-2010 (PDF)

I had a small hand in this, reviewing some language, but the thrust of the bill came from NASA’s stubborn refusal to provide FOI requested data and documents to CEI. Don’t these guys ever learn? Of course this bill is in its infancy, so there’s no telling if it will make it to law, and if it does, how much it will be modified, or if some pork will be added to it.

Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

— Otto von Bismarck

So, we’ll watch the sausage being made here, and hope for the best.  – Anthony

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geoff

This would be a great step forward without doubt.

Ah, longing for the days when science was pursuit of the truth.

hotrod ( Larry L )

Fantastic move!
This should be a wake up call to EPA as well that if they don’t stop screwing around with regulatory control, they could get their leash pulled up short in the same way.
I strongly support this effort and any similar efforts to bring the bureaucratic dogs to heal, for their abuse of the public trust and malicious backdoor methods to impose regulations with the force of law that the people at large have no desire for, and in many cases actively oppose.
Power in America comes from the bottom up not the top down, and they have stepped on the toes of the little guy a few times too many lately. The last election was a warning shot across the bow from every agency in government. I hope they are bright enough to notice.
Larry

Jeremy

The other saying is…
Laws like sausages are always better after being cooked by the press; diced by the lawyers, and seasoned by the end user.

Kev-in-UK

The interesting thing is that it will turn out to be a double edged sword.
If the bill is defeated or grossly weakened in its strength – this will play into the hands of the skeptics and public trust will be further reduced.
If the bill is passed and genuine raw data is released – this will also play into the hands of skeptics as the skeptical scientists will be able to see just exactly how much alteration to the raw data has been made.
Either way – if it doesnt make law – the reason can ONLY be that they have too much to hide – there is NO other logical explanation for witholding such data. (though I suppose, some data showing the heat generated from past alien visits/thermonuclear tests or some other remote reason for ‘National security’ could be found? LOL)

latitude

We can only hope……..
I want to see them have to explain how the ‘past’ keeps getting colder every time
they create a new temperature record…

DD More

(b) DATA ADJUSTMENT.—
(1) METHODS TO COMPLY WITH INFORMATION QUALITY ACT.—The applicable Federal official may not utilize a method for the adjustment of data for purposes of complying with the requirements of section 2 or 4, as the case may be, unless such official ensures and certifies that such method complies with the guidelines of the Information Quality Act, including, but not limited to, requirements as follows:
But what is Hanson going to do with all his free time?

RockyRoad

The Democrats always complain that the Republicans are anti-science. Well, let’s see who is “anti-science” now! (I’m betting the LAST thing the Dems want to see is free access to climate science data, even though all taxpayers paid for it.)

Jeremy

On second thought about this article…
The fact that this law is even being considered is a horrific disgrace to the university/science/research system/industry in this country. Open transparency should be the de-facto norm in any publicly funded university science situation. The fact that NASA gets away with a refusal says that our country has become quite dishonest.

R. de Haan

A great step forward.

Lance

Big question though is who decides that the raw data is Raw Data…

Lance

Hopefully also, ‘The Team’ is not allowed to contribute in any way.

crosspatch

“• The bill would force NASA to release their original raw historical temperature data and post it online for anyone to see and use. ”
I think you mean: “The bill would force NASA to delete their original raw historical temperature data and post online for anyone to see that they only retain the ‘value added’ product.
In other words, same song, second verse.

Paddy

The beauty of bills like this is the leverage that is afforded by the Republican majority in the House where all bills concerning taxation and budgets must originate. This bill is a message to the EPA and like minded agencies to cooperate, or they will be put on a fiscal starvation diet.

D. King

latitude says:
December 8, 2010 at 11:04 am
We can only hope……..
I want to see them have to explain how the ‘past’ keeps getting colder every time
they create a new temperature record…
Me too!

If the EPA and NASA are balky at obeying the existing laws (i.e. FOIA) then just turn off the funding. Zero the balance. Shoo everyone out and lock the doors.
That’s the win-win-win solution. We don’t need more laws, for goodness sake.

John W.

“Jeremy says:
December 8, 2010 at 11:13 am
On second thought about this article…
The fact that this law is even being considered is a horrific disgrace to the university/science/research system/industry in this country. Open transparency should be the de-facto norm in any publicly funded university science situation.
I agree. But the law itself is a great idea.

PRD

Thank you, David Vitter. I helped elect you. Keep this bill going strong, get it passed, and let’s look at the data.
I have a strange queasiness that the data the EPA is holding onto will be more damaging to them than NASA’s is to NASA.
George W. Bush, I believe (in retrospective rumination) knew what a mindless rabid pit bull the EPA had become. Therefore he kept them on a very short leash. Now we have a president who’s decided to unlock the chain and sprinkle blood where he wants the EPA to attack.

JEM

The fact that this matter has gotten the attention of senior members of Congress, and that a substantial body of them believe this is a problem, is in itself a huge step forward.

Neo

It’s not in thomas.loc.gov yet

a jones

I just hope the proposed bill also applies to ARGO float data which at the moment is subject to gatekeeping: I wonder why?
Kindest Regards

CodeTech

latitude says:

I want to see them have to explain how the ‘past’ keeps getting colder every time they create a new temperature record…

Oh come on, I clearly remember all those -20 days we used to get in July when I was a kid. In fact, it used to be that -64 was considered decent weather for walking to school. And I can’t believe everyone doesn’t know that the prairies used to grow great wheat when the average summer temps were barely above freezing.
Anyway… this bill would be stunning… awesome… awe inspiring… amazing. That sad part is I know it will NEVER come to pass. Data transparency, in fact, any transparency is pure poison to governments, let alone climate researchers.

If NASA will not obey the FOI law, what makes the authors think it will obey this one?

Schrodinger's Cat

I advise you to invest in whitewash now – be two jumps ahead.
First, the revelations about the corruption of science, then the good and the great will hold their in-depth, comprehensive and objective investigations…

nc

NASA just a shadow of its former great self. Seems to parallel the down fall of once a great nation. USA what are you doing to yourself.

Steve Schaper

Aren’t they already breaking the law by disobeying the FOI requests? That calls for handcuffs, not yet another law.

While I’m all for government forcing itself to release raw data, the idea that the US government would produce an accurate, unpoliticized temperature record is laughable. Politics, stealing people’s money and giving it to scientists to produce the results the politicians want to hear, is what created the massive fraud that permeates all scientific study today. Having politicians take more control of the direct production of an official, government approved temperature record would make matters worse, not better.

Northern Exposure

Fan-friggin-tastic !
It’ll be interesting to watch this bill evolve and whether or not it makes it out of the starting gate because it will clue in the public as to just what exactly is going on behind the curtain of climate science.

RayG

I just sent an email to one of my senators, Diane Feinstein, asking her to support Senator Vitter’s bil and why I think that it is an abomination that such legislation should be necessary. I encourage WUWT readers to lobby their senators on behalf of S. 4015. A few hundred emails in support will go far in the hoary hallowed halls of our elected repsentatives.

RayG

Typo alert, “..Senator Vitter’s bilL…” Didn’t bother with my other senator for all of the obvious reasons.

Pat Moffitt

Be very careful of unintended consequences!!! While I agree the raw data should be made available– it concerns me when the govt mandates an official temperature profile for any study (isn’t that what we have now?). Requiring the raw data be made available and documentation of any adjustments which may have been made should be sufficient for government funded research.
The raw data is part two — Part one is the adequacy of the system that produces the raw data.

Layne Blanchard

I would prefer to see the new GOP president (after a damning audit exposing the fraud) re-assign Hansen, Schmidt, Serreze, et al, and appoint legitimate scientists to monitor and report on GMT.

I don’t like this provision:
• The resulting temperature record would have to be used as one (but not the only one) of the historical records by any scientists or group that accepts federal money for climate research.

Robinson

Seems entirely sensible to me and it reads very well indeed. I wonder what the chances are that this will pass?

Mac the Knife

The empty 2008 promises of ‘open and transparent government’ will take a giant leap towards reality, if this bill can be passed by the Congressional Class of 2010.
A humble yet All American “Thank You!” to all of the hard working, honest scientists and pols working to restore a small measure of credibility to our US national science programs!

latitude says:
December 8, 2010 at 11:04 am
We can only hope……..
I want to see them have to explain how the ‘past’ keeps getting colder every time
they create a new temperature record…
###############
Just read the code. it’s pretty clear why this does happen and why it should.

Dave Walker

How about we just zero budget the EPA and NASA until they provide raw data ? If some researcher wants academic freedom (from FOI), let them fund their own research.

Andrew30

RayG says: December 8, 2010 at 12:02 pm
“A few hundred emails in support will go far in the hoary hallowed halls of our elected repsentatives.”
Emails are easly ignored because they are perceived as not requiring any effort of the part of the (potentially automated, possibly cut-and-pasted) author.
If you really want to make an impact, then put pen to paper and write a letter out by hand, do not use a printer, use a stamp.
Request a response, do not include a phone number or email address in your letter.
A real letter communicates to the recipient a vastly higher level of concern and interest on the part of the author. Sending an email is worse then even a phone call.
Responding to an email, likewise, requires little effort, thought or cost; and can be completly automated.
Pen and Ink.

Saaad

This is great news, although I suspect the paper shredders and disk wiping programmes will be working overtime at GISS before the bill gets passed.

Colin from Mission B.C.

Mike D. says:
December 8, 2010 at 11:24 am
If the EPA and NASA are balky at obeying the existing laws (i.e. FOIA) then just turn off the funding. Zero the balance. Shoo everyone out and lock the doors.
That’s the win-win-win solution. We don’t need more laws, for goodness sake.
=========
Love it! Like the Reagan solution to the striking air traffic controllers in the early 80s. He just fired ’em all in one fell presidential swoop. I admire the man for many things, but he’s a god in my eyes for that single act alone.

Speaking of climate, data, and integrity … o/t but Donna Laframboise has found* a “Powerful New Research Tool that assist those who are interested in exploring the integrity of the IPCC’s AR4 to “analyze it more comprehensively than ever before.” She concludes that this tool, AccessIPCC “represents an enormous leap forward. We now have a more user-friendly – and immeasurably richer – way of evaluating the IPCC’s Nobel-winning report.”
*Full disclosure: Well, “found” isn’t exactly the right word, because as one of the two people Donna names as being responsible for this, I had let her know about it 🙂
Readers might be interested in the views of those who – thanks to Bishop Hill’s highlighting this in The annotated AR4 really can be said to have “found” it!
BH reports that “the overall effect … is to illuminate our understanding of the AR4 process”. I couldn’t agree more! But then I am somewhat biased:-)

M2Cents

[i]”Laws like sausages are always better after being cooked by the press; diced by the lawyers, and seasoned by the end user.”[/i]
Wouldn’t this mean that laws should be distorted by the press, then dissected by the lawyers to remove any real meaning, and finally packaged to match the reader’s preconceptions?
Sounds like a good description for the process that got us into this mess.

WA777

Links to the Act S. 4015 itself do not work. I am interested in seeing if processing algorithms and the resulting data sets are subject to “Requirements Management”. Such management would document (as a time series) the changes and adjustments made to the raw data sets.
http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/temperature-records-act-2010.pdf
“The full bill as presented is available here Temperature-Records-Act-2010 (PDF)”

Gene Zeien

NCDC, national climactic data center, already has their raw data available. As I understand it, this is the bulk of the land data in NASA’s analyses. The SST data NASA uses is from CRU, I think. I’ve done a basic workup of the NCDC temperatures. My source code (Linux) and links to the raw data at http://justdata.wordpress.com

erik sloneker

Restoring science to it’s rightful place, one law at a time.
I agree with those commenting above that it is absolutely disgraceful that a law like this must be passed to prompt the release of taxpayor funded data to the taxpayors. Let’s hope the law passes with serious consequences for those who ignore it.

Robert M. Marshall

As a “Skeptic”, “Denier”, “Luddite” I find myself strangely optomistic upon hearing this news. I’m quite sure I’ll feel better tomorrow.

Dan in California

NASA’s relevance took another notch down earlier today. The fact that a private company orbited and retrieved a spacecraft suitable for human crew makes it harder for NASA to claim unique expertise. http://www.spacedaily.com/

Baa Humbug

if the bill passes, this is the important paragraph for me…

• The bill would force NASA/NCDC to release the data, and then compile a historic official U.S. temperature record that would be compiled under NASA’s supervision but with a council of appointed meteorologists and statisticians.

lets place bets
Anthony Watts (meteorologist) and Steve McIntyre (statistician) for council.
p.s. Great Job Hilary. Access IPCC will be a great open source tool. those compiling the AR5 will check and double check every dotted i and every crossed t. there are thousands of citizen auditors waiting with green pens in hand.

Raw satellite data is pretty difficult stuff to make sense of. I hope this doesn’t backfire…
What we need in addition are the relevant codes which turn the raw data into indices certified by oversight committees formed of field experts. No more Claus Frohlich using adjustments designed to correct one part of a satellite record on other parts to reduce trends etc.

1DandyTroll

Mr Marc “kick ass” Morano need to add an “H” to ttp. . . . in his link to here.