Documenting Exxon-Mobil's funding of climate change skeptics.

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FACTSHEET: Philip Cooney

DETAILS

unknown, lobbyist?, ExxonMobil
Former Chief of Staff, White House Council on Environmental Quality Former lobbyist, American Petroleum Institute

Cooney monitored global warming policy and science for the Bush White House. Documents obtained by Greenpeace through the Freedom of Information Act reveal a trail of communication between Cooney and Exxon-funded think tanks including the George C. Marshall Institute and Competitive Enterprise Institute

Cooney's current position with Exxon is unclear. Exxon has not revealed exactly what his role is, saying only that he's with the company's public affairs group in Dallas.

Cooney was hired by ExxonMobil June 2005, position as yet unknown. Was Chief of Staff at the White House Council of Environmental Quality from 2001- 2005. Before joining the Bush Administration, Cooney was a lobbyist and "Climate Team Leader" at the American Petroleum Institute.

KEY DEEDS

3 August, 2002
Cooney sought advice and damage control assistance from CEI after release of a controversial EPA study on global warming, contradicting the White House stance.
Source: CEI memo, Ebell to Cooney (08/03/02)

8 June, 2005
In 2002-2003 while at the White House CEQ, Cooney made dozens of edits to federal reports on global warming to amplify the uncertainties and downplay the link to human activities. Days after the New York Times reported Cooney's meddling in June 2005, he resigned his White House post and Exxon Mobil announced that it had hired him.
Source: New York Times June 8, 2005

ORGANIZATIONS

American Petroleum Institute
Source: NY Times, June 8, 2005, Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming

ExxonMobil Corporation
Source: Associated Press -Josef Hebert 6/14/05

Competitive Enterprise Institute
Source: CEI memo, Ebell to Cooney (08/03/02)

SOURCES

NY Times, June 8, 2005, Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming
A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents. An Editor in the White House In handwritten notes on drafts of several reports issued in 2002 and 2003, the official, Philip A. Cooney, removed or adjusted descriptions of climate research that government scientists and their supervisors, including some senior Bush administration officials, had already approved. In many cases, the changes appeared in the final reports. The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust. Mr. Cooney is chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the office that helps devise and promote administration policies on environmental issues. Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training. The documents were obtained by The New York Times from the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit legal-assistance group for government whistle-blowers. The project is representing Rick S. Piltz, who resigned in March as a senior associate in the office that coordinates government climate research. That office, now called the Climate Change Science Program, issued the documents that Mr. Cooney edited. A White House spokeswoman, Michele St. Martin, said yesterday that Mr. Cooney would not be available to comment. "We don't put Phil Cooney on the record," Ms. St. Martin said. "He's not a cleared spokesman." In one instance in an October 2002 draft of a regularly published summary of government climate research, "Our Changing Planet," Mr. Cooney amplified the sense of uncertainty by adding the word "extremely" to this sentence: "The attribution of the causes of biological and ecological changes to climate change or variability is extremely difficult." In a section on the need for research into how warming might change water availability and flooding, he crossed out a paragraph describing the projected reduction of mountain glaciers and snowpack. His note in the margins explained that this was "straying from research strategy into speculative findings/musings." Other White House officials said the changes made by Mr. Cooney were part of the normal interagency review that takes place on all documents related to global environmental change. Robert Hopkins, a spokesman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, noted that one of the reports Mr. Cooney worked on, the administration's 10-year plan for climate research, was endorsed by the National Academy of Sciences. And Myron Ebell, who has long campaigned against limits on greenhouse gases as director of climate policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian group, said such editing was necessary for "consistency" in meshing programs with policy. But critics said that while all administrations routinely vetted government reports, scientific content in such reports should be reviewed by scientists. Climate experts and representatives of environmental groups, when shown examples of the revisions, said they illustrated the significant if largely invisible influence of Mr. Cooney and other White House officials with ties to energy industries that have long fought greenhouse-gas restrictions. In a memorandum sent last week to the top officials dealing with climate change at a dozen agencies, Mr. Piltz said the White House editing and other actions threatened to taint the government's $1.8 billion-a-year effort to clarify the causes and consequences of climate change. "Each administration has a policy position on climate change," Mr. Piltz wrote. "But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program." A senior Environmental Protection Agency scientist who works on climate questions said the White House environmental council, where Mr. Cooney works, had offered valuable suggestions on reports from time to time. But the scientist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because all agency employees are forbidden to speak with reporters without clearance, said the kinds of changes made by Mr. Cooney had damaged morale. "I have colleagues in other agencies who express the same view, that it has somewhat of a chilling effect and has created a sense of frustration," he said. An Editor in the White House Efforts by the Bush administration to highlight uncertainties in science pointing to human-caused warming have put the United States at odds with other nations and with scientific groups at home. Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain, who met with President Bush at the White House yesterday, has been trying to persuade him to intensify United States efforts to curb greenhouse gases. Mr. Bush has called only for voluntary measures to slow growth in emissions through 2012. Yesterday, saying their goal was to influence that meeting, the scientific academies of 11 countries, including those of the United States and Britain, released a joint letter saying, "The scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action." The American Petroleum Institute, where Mr. Cooney worked before going to the White House, has long taken a sharply different view. Starting with the negotiations leading to the Kyoto Protocol climate treaty in 1997, it has promoted the idea that lingering uncertainties in climate science justify delaying restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping smokestack and tailpipe gases. On learning of the White House revisions, representatives of some environmental groups said the effort to amplify uncertainties in the science was clearly intended to delay consideration of curbs on the gases, which remain an unavoidable byproduct of burning oil and coal. "They've got three more years, and the only way to control this issue and do nothing about it is to muddy the science," said Eileen Claussen, the president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, a private group that has enlisted businesses in programs cutting emissions. Mr. Cooney's alterations can cause clear shifts in meaning. For example, a sentence in the October 2002 draft of "Our Changing Planet" originally read, "Many scientific observations indicate that the Earth is undergoing a period of relatively rapid change." In a neat, compact hand, Mr. Cooney modified the sentence to read, "Many scientific observations point to the conclusion that the Earth may be undergoing a period of relatively rapid change." A document showing a similar pattern of changes is the 2003 "Strategic Plan for the United States Climate Change Science Program," a thick report describing the reorganization of government climate research that was requested by Mr. Bush in his first speech on the issue, in June 2001. The document was reviewed by an expert panel assembled in 2003 by the National Academy of Sciences. The scientists largely endorsed the administration's research plan, but they warned that the administration's procedures for vetting reports on climate could result in excessive political interference with science. Another political appointee who has played an influential role in adjusting language in government reports on climate science is Dr. Harlan L. Watson, the chief climate negotiator for the State Department, who has a doctorate in solid-state physics but has not done climate research. In an Oct. 4, 2002 memo to James R. Mahoney, the head of the United States Climate Change Science Program and an appointee of Mr. Bush, Mr. Watson "strongly" recommended cutting boxes of text referring to the findings of a National Academy of Sciences panel on climate and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a United Nations body that periodically reviews research on human-caused climate change. The boxes, he wrote, "do not include an appropriate recognition of the underlying uncertainties and the tentative nature of a number of the assertions." While those changes were made nearly two years ago, recent statements by Dr. Watson indicate that the admnistration's position has not changed. "We are still not convinced of the need to move forward quite so quickly," he told the BBC in London last month. "There is general agreement that there is a lot known, but also there is a lot to be known." By ANDREW C. REVKIN Published: June 8, 2005
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/08/politics/08climate.html?hp&ex=1118289600&en=54e7b911a5d025aa&ei=5094&partner=homepage

Associated Press -Josef Hebert 6/14/05
White House official singled out for editing climate reports to work for Exxon Mobil Josef Hebert -AP 6/14/2005 ran: New York Post (NY), Seattle Times (WA), Palm Beach Post (FL), Atlanta Journal Constitution (GA), New York Times (NY), Boston Globe (MA), ABC News, Los Angels Times (CA) Body of Article A former White House official and one-time oil industry lobbyist whose editing of government reports on climate change prompted criticism from environmentalists will join Exxon Mobil Corp., the oil company said Tuesday. The White House announced over the weekend that Philip Cooney, chief of staff of its Council on Environmental Quality, had resigned, calling it a long-planned departure. He had been head of the climate program at the American Petroleum Institute, the trade group for large oil companies. Cooney will join Exxon Mobil in the fall, company spokesman Russ Roberts told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from the company's headquarters in Irving, Texas. He declined to described Cooney's job. Cooney could not be reached through the White House for comment. White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Cooney's departure was "completely unrelated" to the disclosure two days earlier that he had made changes in several government climate change reports that were issued in 2002 and 2003. "Mr. Cooney has long been considering his options following four years of service to the administration," Perino said. "He'd accumulated many weeks of leave and decided to resign and take the summer off to spend time with his family." The White House made no mention of Cooney's plans to join Exxon Mobil, the world's largest oil company. Its executives have been among the mo?s is carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels. Like the Bush administration, Exxon Mobil Chairman Lee Raymond has argued strongly against the Kyoto climate accord and has raised questions about the certainty of climate science as it relates to possible global warming. Greenpeace and other environmental groups have singled out Raymond and Exxon Mobil for protests because of its position on climate change. Last week, the Government Accountability Project, a nonprofit group that helps whistleblowers, made available documents showing that Cooney was closely involved in final editing of two administration climate reports. He made changes that critics said consistently played down the certainty of the science surrounding climate change. A changes, saying they were part of the normal, wide-ranging review process and did not violate an administration pledge to rely on sound science. A whistleblower, Rick Piltz, who resigned in March from the government office that coordinates federal climate change programs, made the documents - showing handwritten edits by Cooney - available to the Project on Government Accountability and, in turn, to news media.
www.ap.org

CEI memo, Ebell to Cooney (08/03/02)
Email memo from Myron Ebell (CEI) to Phil Cooney (White House CEQ), August 3, 2002.
http://www.greenpeace.org/international/assets/binaries/ceimemo.swf

New York Times June 8, 2005
BUSH AIDE EDITED CLIMATE REPORTS June 8, 2005, Wednesday By ANDREW C. REVKIN
http://foi.missouri.edu/whistleblowing/bushaideedited.html