Published October 25, 2007
WASHINGTON – The White House Wednesday defended the editing of a top health official's Senate testimony on climate change, saying other agencies were uncomfortable that she was getting into territory beyond what she was asked to convey to Congress.
Tony Fratto, White House spokesman, said Julie Gerberding, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was asked to talk about the health effects of climate change before the Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, and did so on Tuesday.
However, her 14-page remarks included "the science of climate change," said Fratto.
Those vetting the document within other agencies, including the Office of Management and Budget, weren't comfortable with some of the assertions made.
Though the White House does not disagree that climate change can have adverse health effects — a view held by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, whose latest findings have been endorsed by the Bush Administration — Gerberding's language on the subject did not pass review, said Fratto.
Furthermore, he said, Gerberding's paper had been submitted for review "within 24 hours" of her scheduled appearance. The OMB chopped all but four-and-a-half pages rather than try to rework all the language, Fratto told FOXNews.com.
The editing came to light when an unnamed source at the CDC told The Associated Press that the CDC director's testimony had been "eviscerated."
An original draft of the remarks has been obtained, with the edited parts highlighted.
The draft shows that most, if not all, of Gerberding's thoughts on the health effects of climate change were taken out.
But the White House and a CDC spokesman reached by reporters said Gerberding was able to make all of her points with the senators in the question-and-answer period that followed her prepared testimony.
"She provided Congress with everything she wanted to say," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters Wednesday.
The editing drew criticism from Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the committee, who said in a prepared statement, "The administration should release the full, uncut statement, because the public has a right to know all the facts about the serious threats of global warming."
Boxer's office has not ruled out further action on the issue.
A spokesman for the committee's Republican ranking member, Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said the issue had been exaggerated.
"All administrations edit testimony through the OMB process," spokesman Matt Dempsey said.
Steve Milloy, founder of Junk Science.com, said he's happy to hear the White House stepped in before her original testimony could be shared.
"The federal government is chock full of climate-change alarmists and [Gerberding] is going along with it because she doesn't know any better," said Milloy, a leading climate-change skeptic.
He said Gerberding's testimony, in full, would have been seized upon by what he deems "alarmists."
"It accomplishes nothing," said Milloy.