House Vote to Defund UN Climate Change Panel that Missouri Congressman Calls ‘Nefarious’

By Chris Neefus | February 22, 2011 | 1:50pm EST

Glaciers and icebergs in Greenland, as seen in August 2005. (AP File Photo/John McConnico)

( - The House of Representatives voted to defund the United Nations panel on studying climate change last weekend, after the Republican who introduced the proposal said the body had “whipped up a global frenzy” over climate change because its members were politically motivated.

“It is tragic the some perhaps well-meaning but politically motivated scientists who should know better have whipped up a global frenzy about a phenomenon which is statistically questionable at best,” Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-Mo.) said on the House floor late Saturday night.

Luetkemeyer introduced the amendment to the Full Year Continuing Appropriations Act, a bill that will fund the federal government for the balance of the year. His amendment prohibits any of the money the government plans to spend this year from supporting the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.N. body that reports on climate change science.

The amendment -- which passed on a 244-179 vote, with nine Democrats joining the majority -- would add a section to the end of the spending bill that says, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used for contributions to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).”
Luetkemeyer accused the U.N. IPCC of giving incorrect information.  

“This group has been in the headlines for their activities with regard to how they are trying to tinker with the data that they put out,” Luetkemeyer said. “(W)hy would we want to fund a group of folks who are nefarious and give us incorrect information? It’s beyond me.”

During debate, however, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, challenged Luetkemeyer’s characterization of the panel and called the IPCC an “extraordinarily sound” and “nonpartisan” organization.

“This institution is a nonpartisan and technically extraordinarily sound organization,” Waxman said on the floor. “The Republican majority has already voted to prevent EPA from using funds to regulate greenhouse gases. Now we’re being asked to de-fund the work of international scientists to learn about the threat. The assumption seems to be that there is no threat, and therefore let’s not study it. I think that is not a wise assumption.”

Waxman pointed out that several of the scientists have won the Nobel Prize for their activities.  

“I used to think that people from Missouri were the ‘show-me’ state,” he continued, referring to Luetkemeyer’s home state. “Now I gather what this gentleman from Missouri is suggesting is, I don’t want to know about it. And I don’t think that’s what the position ought to be of the United States Congress. Let’s learn the facts, and then decide what to do about it, and not stop trying to learn what the science is behind the global threats.”

House Republicans, however, have targeted the IPCC because the group, which releases a semi-annual assessment of the climate and the threats to populations around the globe, has admitted to a series of factual errors in its reports.

Some of the contributing scientists were also caught up in a scandal, widely known as “Climategate,” in which leaked e-mails showed a group of scientists seemingly hiding requests for the raw data they used to reach their conclusions.

After his amendment passed, Luetkemeyer released a statement, saying, “The (IPCC) is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for at a time of out-of-control spending and historic debt, which is why I am extremely pleased that my amendment passed.”

The amendment is one of many that the Republican-controlled House has passed that may or may not survive the Democrat-controlled Senate and ultimately land on President Obama’s desk for a signature.

The bill Congress is considering is known as a “continuing resolution” or “C.R.” because it largely continues funding the government at the previous budgeted levels, save for any amendments made. A C.R. is currently under consideration because Democrats failed to present or have a vote on an official budget for Fiscal Year 2011.

Instead, they produced a C.R. that expires on March 4, by which time Congress will need to have passed the new C.R. needed for the balance of the year.

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