(Washington, DC) – House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas sent a letter to the Biden Administration requesting information on the abrupt decision to remove Dr. Betsy Weatherhead from her role as Director of the Fifth National Climate Assessment. 

Dr. Weatherhead is a Nobel Peace Prize recipient for her work on climate science and has had a distinguished career in academia, government, and private industry. Her selection to lead the National Climate Assessment garnered bipartisan praise from the scientific community. No official communication has been issued regarding Dr. Weatherhead’s removal from her leadership of the National Climate Assessment. 

“I find the decision to remove Dr. Weatherhead from the National Climate Assessment extremely troubling for a variety of reasons,” Lucas said. “Not only does she have an impeccable record, but there were no explanations given for her removal. This suggests that she and other civil-service scientists are not being evaluated based on merit, but rather based on the fact that they were hired by the previous Administration. While Administrations are free to hire their own political appointees, penalizing and removing civil servants represents disturbing political interference in the federal scientific enterprise.”

Lucas also raised concerns with potential impacts on the National Climate Assessment. “With the next report due in 2022, the removal of Dr. Weatherhead for political reasons not only instills public distrust, but also potentially delays a report that is essential for Congress in making informed environmental policy decisions.”

The full letter is available here