U.S. official edited warming, emission link-report

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A White House official who previously worked for the American Petroleum Institute has repeatedly edited government climate reports in a way that downplays links between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, made changes to descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists and their supervisors, the newspaper said, citing internal documents.

The White House denied that Cooney had watered down the impact of global warming.

"That's false," spokesman Scott McClellan said. "The reports are based on the best scientific knowledge that we have at this time."

The newspaper said it had obtained the documents from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that provides legal help to government whistle-blowers.

The group is representing Rick Piltz, who resigned in March from the office that coordinates government research and issued the documents that Cooney edited, the Times said.

The newspaper said Cooney made handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, removing or adjusting language on climate research.

White House officials told the newspaper the changes were part of a normal interagency review of all documents related to global environmental change.

"All comments are reviewed, and some are accepted and some are rejected," Robert Hopkins, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy told the newspaper.

In a memo sent last week to top officials dealing with climate change at a dozen agencies, Piltz charged that "politicization by the White House" was undermining the credibility and integrity of the science program.

© Reuters 2005.