photo via flickr
As the new Congress begins to identify its priorities, we know that comprehensive climate and energy legislation is off the agenda, of course. But attacks on existing government programs and funding designed to fight and monitor climate change are sure to come. We know that many congressional Republicans intend to try to strip the EPA of its ability to regulate carbon emissions and that Darrell Issa (R-CA), incoming chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, will likely take yet another look at the so called "ClimateGate" scandal. Now word comes from Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) that he will again try to block funding for the CIA's climate change project.The CIA analyzes thousands of satellite images that reveal climate change impacts like melting sea ice and desertification. It uses that data to inform policy recommendations for lawmakers on matters like climate impacts and coming resource conflicts. The data is crucial to the national security outlook for the country, but Barasso said it's used for "spying on sea lions."
The CIA's climate program has drawn the ire of conservatives before. Last year, Fox's Sean Hannity, in the video below, mocked the idea of the CIA monitoring climate change.
The New York Times looked into the claim that resources for the CIA climate program were distracting from work it could be doing on terrorism. The paper found that it did not.
The monitoring program has little or no impact on regular intelligence gathering, federal officials said, but instead releases secret information already collected or takes advantage of opportunities to record environmental data when classified sensors are otherwise idle or passing over wilderness.
Barasso has not said when he intends to move forward with his plans to cut the CIA program. Stay tuned to see his next move.