The Republican committee chairman pressuring government scientists over what he's termed a "politically correct" global warming study decided to not subpoena scientists' emails Tuesday.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, has issued subpoenas to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration seeking communications related to the release of the study this year. While previous subpoenas included scientists who worked on the project, Smith said in a letter to Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker that he was willing to limit the subpoena to non-scientific personnel.
"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 prioritizing communications sent and received by non-scientific personnel," Smith wrote.
Smith, a climate change skeptic, believes NOAA came out with the study, with its "politically correct results" as he said in a committee meeting Tuesday, in order to justify President Obama's Clean Power Plan.
It's Smith's belief that government scientists altered historical data about global temperatures, which previously showed the rate of global warming paused during the last 15 years.
However, the study reported the rate of global warming in the last 15 years has been as fast, if not faster than, the rate of global warming during the latter half of the 20th century.
As a part of the study, researcher Thomas Karl used temperatures from 30,000 surface stations, as compared to the 7,000 stations used in older studies. The data also included temperatures from 2014, the hottest year on record.
Democrats, as well as many in the scientific community, have pilloried Smith on the House Science committee for seeking the scientists' communications. Many scientist groups have warned of a chilling effect on future research on climate change by government scientists who could worry about political influence on their studies.
Smith believes the study was rushed to publication and the science was not properly reviewed. The journal Science hit back at those claims last month.
In his latest letter to Pritzker, Smith believes the administration is purposely obstructing him while playing dumb and acting like it's not sure what the committee is looking for.
"Every request for communications by the committee, whether through formal letter or discussions between staff, has been met with either a blanket refusal or a refusal accompanied by a suggestion that the committee consider revising its request," Smith wrote, "but with no commitment that NOAA would agree to provide communications even if the committee narrowed its request."