Congressional science committee members secretly visited Arctic research sites

By Kelsey Lindsey - July 14, 2017

Members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, led by the committee’s chairman, an outspoken climate skeptic, made a secretive trip to key Arctic research sites in May, according to a new report from BuzzFeed News.

The congressional delegation was led by Rep. Lamar Smith, a Republican from Texas, head of the science committee and vocal skeptic of climate science. According to BuzzFeed, Smith was accompanied by at least eight other congressmen and women, most of whom are members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. Scientists quoted by the news outlet said that they were told to keep mum about the visit. Some lawmakers and researchers that participated confirmed that it indeed happened.

The Barrow Arctic Research Center photographed on Wednesday, September 23, 2015, in Barrow. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)
The Barrow Arctic Research Center, shown here in a September 2015 file photo, was one of the stops in a secretive trip made in May by a congressional delegation to climate research sites in the Arctic. (Erik Hill / Alaska Dispatch News)

The group first traveled to Utqiagvik, Alaska, where they visited the Barrow Arctic Research Center, Ilisagvik College and the Barrow Atmospheric Baseline Observatory.

The next stop on the National Science Foundation-orchestrated itinerary was Thule Air Base in Greenland. Here, the delegation met with researchers and boarded an F-3 plane to fly over the country’s melting glaciers.

A visit to the University of Alaska’s Toolik Field Station was also scheduled, but it had to be canceled due to inclement weather. (A team from Toolik later traveled to Washington, D.C, to speak with members of the committee, BuzzFeed reported).

In March, the committee traded tense exchanges with a climate scientist during a hearing on climate science and the scientific method. It has also used its Twitter account to promote an article calling the media “climate alarmists” and rebuke some working on climate change research.