If House Republicans have their way, the U.S. may sever its fiscal support for the United Nations' climate group, reflecting the last lingering effects of the Climate-gate scandal that shook climate science and wobbled the world's confidence in the theory that man's actions are causing the planet to rapidly warm.
Wrapped into the many amendments recently passed by the House of Representatives -- a total of $60 billion in spending cuts that the president called a "nonstarter" -- was one by Republican Missouri Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer that would prohibit $13 million in taxpayer dollars from going to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the group whose occasional missteps have been the source of countless confrontations among climate scientists over the past year.
And sources tell FoxNews.com he plans to push that issue -- a movement labeled "defund the IPCC" by climate-change skeptics -- regardless of what happens to the larger package of amendments.
"The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is an entity that is fraught with waste and fraud, and engaged in dubious science, which is the last thing hard-working American taxpayers should be paying for," Luetkemeyer said in a public statement when he announced the bill.
Unsurprisingly, the IPCC took issue with Luetkemeyer's proposal -- and his facts.
That $13 million figure is misleading, argued Chris Field, the director of the department of global ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science and co-chair of an IPCC's working group that will help write the U.N.'s next big climate report.
"In 2010, the U.S. invested about $4 million in IPCC activities," he told FoxNews.com. So where did the $13 million figure come from? "That's actually a combined amount that would help support several programs, including the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Global Earth Observation System of Systems, the Global Climate Observing System, and IPCC," Field said.
Luetkemeyer remains unswayed.
A congressional aide told FoxNews.com that he plans to pursue the bill -- regardless of whether it is passed in the larger Republican budget.
"The congressman plans to continue his effort to stop taxpayer support of the IPCC and remains cautiously optimistic that the Senate will take the amendment," said Keith Beardslee, a spokesman for the congressman. "Failing that, Blaine has reintroduced separate legislation he first introduced in the 1111th Congress to halt funding to the IPCC."
More than 700 acclaimed international scientists have challenged the claims made by the IPCC, Luetkemeyer argued. These 700-plus dissenting scientists are affiliated with institutions like the U.S. Departments of Energy and Defense, the U.S. Air Force and Navy, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Many climate scientists and environmental activists disagree with the efforts to defund the UN organization, however. The World Wildlife Fund posted a note to its blog staunchly supporting the IPCC.
"WWF on 16 February joined a large coalition of other groups -- representing millions of Americans -- in sending a letter to members of Congress urging them to oppose all anti-environmental amendments to H.R. 1, the Full Year Continuing Resolution, 2011."
"The bill already includes destructive cuts and unrelated policy provisions that would harm our air, water, lands, oceans, wildlife and families and communities. We urge you to support any efforts to remove these provisions and to oppose anti-environmental amendments that would further worsen this already terrible bill."
Also buried in the budget cuts was an amendment by Rep. Ralph M. Hall, R-Texas, chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, prohibiting funds to implement a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Service, part of the President’s fiscal year 2012 budget request.
The Chairman noted that from 2006 through the present, the U.S. has spent nearly $36 billion on climate change, and he questioned whether that spending has had meaningful benefits.
“This rather singular focus for the Federal government’s limited research dollars slows our ability to make innovative and perhaps life-altering advances in other equally, if not more important, disciplines,” Hall said.
Jeremy A. Kaplan is Science and Technology editor at FoxNews.com, where he heads up coverage of gadgets, the online world, space travel, nature, the environment, and more. Prior to joining Fox, he was executive editor of PC Magazine, co-host of the Fastest Geek competition, and a founding editor of GoodCleanTech.