Representative Louie Gohmert (R–TX) is worried that scientists employed by the U.S. government have been running roughshod over the rights of Americans in pursuit of their personal political goals. So this week Gohmert, the chair of the oversight and investigations subpanel of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing to explore “the consequences of politically driven science.” Notably absent, however, were any scientists, including those alleged to have gone astray.
“The purpose of this hearing is to hear from real people, mammals called human beings that have been harmed by the federal government,” Gohmert said in opening the 29 April hearing, which featured testimony from three Republican-called witnesses on alleged misdeeds by researchers with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS).
Neither of those agencies, however, was present to respond. The lone witness called by the panel’s Democrats was science historian Naomi Oreskes of Harvard University, best known for her studies of how the tobacco and energy industries have attempted to sow doubt about health and climate research that poses a potential threat to their interests. Her take on the hearing: It “wasn’t really about the science at all,” but broader disagreements over environmental policy and the role of government.