WASHINGTON, D.C. – Reps. Jamie Raskin (MD-08), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) and Kathy Castor (FL-14) led 85 House Members in urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to reconsider and withdraw the appointment of climate denier David Legates to a leadership role at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Legates has repeatedly rejected the scientific consensus that increasing carbon emissions is causing climate change, devoted his career to discrediting the work of climate researchers, and benefited from generous funding from the fossil fuel industry. As the new Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for environmental observation and prediction—a role that reports directly to the Acting NOAA Administrator—Legates is poised to seriously damage NOAA’s scientific independence, integrity, and effectiveness.
The Members wrote: “…This kind of science denial threatens the work of NOAA, which has recognized the immense challenges climate change poses for our fishing industries and coastal communities. Climate deniers appointed to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior have already sidelined climate scientists, removed entire websites, altered climate communications, and prevented scientists from speaking out publicly. More than a hundred scientists at NOAA have reported censorship of the phrase ‘climate change’ in their work. We cannot allow Legates to discredit the dedicated researchers at NOAA in their essential work.”
“As the Representative of Maryland’s 8th District, which is home to NOAA, I am outraged by this move,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin. “David Legates’ scandalous appointment to a position with critical influence at NOAA is the latest move by the Trump Administration to undermine our Nation’s top climate scientists, research agencies and environmental organizations.”
“The acidic ocean and devastating wildfires demonstrate that the climate crisis is real in Oregon, as it is across the country and around the planet,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is a premier federal science agency for climate monitoring, and its leaders must take the threat of climate change seriously. The appointment of a longtime climate denier, David Legates, to an influential position at NOAA is a betrayal of the scientific community and the American people. He cannot be allowed to harm NOAA’s scientific integrity.”
"Over the past month, climate-fueled storms like Hurricanes Laura, Sally, and now Beta have flooded communities and devastated families across our Gulf Coast, slamming businesses and decimating infrastructure. Science tells us that warmer ocean temperatures are leading to more intense hurricanes - and our nation needs leaders who understand science, respect experts, and are willing to act on climate to reduce the harms and risks in our communities," said Chair Kathy Castor (FL-14) of the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. "David Legates does not meet that standard. His appointment to a leadership role at the NOAA would be a stain on the agency's scientific legacy, and a continuation of Trump's abject failure at protecting public health, the environment, and vulnerable communities."
Legates’ appointment does not require Senate confirmation and comes as NOAA is preparing for the 5th National Climate Assessment, a congressionally-mandated report to the president and Congress on the effects and sources of climate change. Climate scientists have expressed concern that Legates would be positioned to influence the direction of the National Climate Assessment and undermine NOAA’s scientific integrity.
The letter is supported by Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, American Geophysical Union, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Katharine Jacobs (Director of the Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions, and Director of the National Climate Assessment in the Obama Administration). A copy of the letter is available here.
In addition to Reps. Raskin, Bonamici and Castor, the letter is also signed the by the following Members: Barragán, Beyer, Blumenauer, Blunt Rochester, Brownley, Carbajal, Cartwright, Case, Casten, Cicilline, Clarke, Cleaver, Cohen, Connolly, Correa, Courtney, Crist, Davis (Danny), Dingell, Engel, Espaillat, Evans, Fletcher, Foster, Fudge, Garcia (Jesús), Grijalva, Haaland, Hastings, Huffman, Jackson Lee, Jayapal, Kaptur, Keating, Khanna, Kilmer, Larsen, Lee, Levin (Andy), Lieu, Lofgren, Lowenthal, Luján, Matsui, McEachin, McGovern, McNerney, Meeks, Meng, Napolitano, Neguse, Norton, Ocasio-Cortez, Pappas, Perlmutter, Pingree, Pocan, Porter, Price, Quigley, Rush, Sánchez, Sarbanes, Schakowsky, Schrier, Scott (Bobby), Shalala, Sherrill, Smith (Adam), Suozzi, Thompson (Bennie), Thompson (Mike), Titus, Tlaib, Tonko, Torres, Trone, Velázquez, Wasserman Schultz, Welch, Wexton, Wilson.