WASHINGTON — Sen. Barbara Boxer, the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, blasted the White House on Thursday for severely editing a key government witness' written testimony on the health effects of global warming.
On Tuesday, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Julie Gerberding, appeared before Boxer's panel and read from an opening statement. That six-page statement had been cut in half by the White House Office of Management and Budget, which removed almost all of the concerns she'd been prepared to raise, including her view that the "CDC considers climate change a serious public health concern."
The excised testimony said that climate change is likely to "to have a significant impact on health" because of heat, extreme weather events, increased air pollution, allergies, diseases and mental health problems.
"This is dangerous for the United States of America," Boxer, the California Democrat, said at a news conference. "Time and time again, this administration has changed scientific reports when it didn't agree with their position. The pattern has to stop now."
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Wednesday that all administration testimony goes through an internal review, and that in this case, "a number of agencies had some concerns." Among them was that Gerberding's testimony "did not comport" with what had been reported by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the international organization that recently shared the Noble Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore for its work on global warming.
But Boxer issued a side-by-side comparison of the unedited testimony and the IPCC findings and said there were no discrepancies. She's sent a letter to the White House demanding to see the written comments of other administration officials concerned about Gerberding's remarks.
Gerberding told the Atlanta Press Club on Wednesday that she had no problems with what the White House had done and that she felt she'd said what needed to be said in answering senators' questions.
But Boxer said Thursday that she isn't giving up, saying it's critical to know the views of the administration.
"We are talking about hearing something from the government of the United States of America," Boxer said. "I want to hear from our people and, guess what, we couldn't hear from them."
At the hearing, Gerberding said it's not a question of whether there will be health effects from global warming. "It's a question of who, where, when and how," she said.