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Democrats press Bush on climate change testimony

By Reuters (Reuters) - January 26, 2007

Democrats in the U.S. Congress on Thursday demanded to know if the White House had improperly interfered with a health official’s prepared testimony about global warming, amid allegations that large portions were deleted for political reasons.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, wrote President George W. Bush requesting he “please provide to my office, no later than Monday … a copy of all drafts” of testimony by the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This isn’t a country that should be censoring science,” Boxer, a California Democrat, told reporters.

CDC Director Julie Gerberding testified on Wednesday before Boxer’s panel on the health implications of global warming.

On Thursday, Boxer released to reporters what she said was a draft of Gerberding’s testimony to the committee. About half of the text had been deleted.

Among the passages deleted, according to documents released by Boxer, were: “Scientific evidence supports the view that the earth’s climate is changing. … In the United States, climate change is likely to have a significant impact on health.”

In the House of Representatives, Rep. Bart Gordon of Tennessee, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, wrote White House science adviser John Marburger demanding an explanation.

White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Wednesday Gerberding’s draft testimony “did not comport” with science contained in an International Panel on Climate Change report and that “a number of agencies had some concerns with the draft.”

The U.N. IPCC shared this year’s Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore for their work on global warming.

In her news conference, Boxer released a side-by-side comparison that she said showed the deleted portions of Gerberding’s testimony tracked closely with IPCC findings.

Throughout Bush’s nearly seven years as president, environmentalists have accused his administration of blocking progress on reducing emissions that are thought to contribute to dangerous climate change.

While the administration more recently appeared to embrace scientists’ conclusions that humans contribute to global warming, it has not pushed aggressive reforms that environmentalists want.