BOULDER – The University of Colorado is vigorously defending a professor targeted for investigation by a Democratic congressman after challenging an Obama administration belief on climate change.
Roger Pielke, Jr could hardly be described as a climate change denier. Pielke has called for a carbon tax to fund technological innovation and supported increased pollution regulations to push energy producers to develop cleaner fuels.
But Pielke disagrees with the Obama administration's view that the increasing costs of disasters can be linked to greenhouse gas emissions.
Pielke's July 2013 testimony to Congress drew the ire of Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.). Grijalva is demanding that seven universities provide information about researchers' "potential conflicts of interest" suggesting that they might be funded by oil and gas interests.
In a February 24 letter to University of Colorado President Bruce Benson, Grijalva ordered CU to disclose the sources of Pielke's funding and his financial disclosure forms.
"My colleagues and I cannot perform our duties if research or testimony provided to us is influenced by undisclosed financial relationships," Grijalva wrote. CU-Boulder Provost Russell Moore told 9NEWS that Pielke hasn't received a dime of oil company money.
"Professor Pielke is a highly regarded faculty member who is clearly operating under the principles of academic freedom, which we strongly defend," Moore said. "We stand behind him." In a blog post, Pielke called Grijalva's effort an effort to discredit his academic research.
"I know with complete certainty that this investigation is a politically motivated 'witch-hunt' designed to intimidate me (and others) and to smear my name," Pielke said.
The American Meteorological Society weighed in February 27 expressing its concern with Grijalva's investigation. "Publicly singling out specific researchers based on perspectives they have expressed and implying a failure to appropriately disclose funding sources – and thereby questioning their scientific integrity – sends a chilling message to all academic researchers," the AMS wrote in a letter to Grijalva.
A spokesperson for Democratic Congressman Jared Polis, whose district includes Boulder, urged a measured approach saying that while potential conflicts of interest in academic research should be fully disclosed, Polis was not going to prejudge Pielke's work without examining the facts.
(KUSA-TV © 2015 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)