The House's top Republican watchdog is planning to launch an investigation into international climate data if he takes the helm of the chamber's oversight panel next year.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the ranking member of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said a probe of the "Climategate" scandal will top his environmental agenda if the Republicans take over the House next year and he gets the chairmanship.
"I do have a backburner investigation that I'm going to want to have completed, and that is, we paid a lot of money to have international evaluation, most of it done in Britain, that turns out to have been less than truthful in some of the figures," he said. "We're going to want to not investigate to get our money back, but we're going to want to have a do-over of good numbers so that everyone can have confidence."
The disputed climate data became the subject of heated controversy last year when hackers released e-mails from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England. Climate skeptics pointed to the e-mails as evidence that prominent scientists tried to inappropriately manipulate and suppress raw climate data and silence their critics.
Investigative panels in Britain and the United States have since cleared researchers of any wrongdoing, but some Republican lawmakers remain unconvinced.
"For me, settled science starts out with settled raw data, then people negotiate and discuss and hypothecate from that data," Issa said. "If the raw data's in doubt, then the idea that we have settled science doesn't exist. I want settled science."
Should Republicans win control of the House next year -- which many political analysts see as likely -- Issa and other top Republicans are expected to ramp up their oversight of federal agencies, including U.S. EPA.
Asked whether this Congress has been lax in its EPA oversight, Issa quipped, "You think?"
"We've seen no oversight, or virtually no oversight," he said.
"The amount of letters sent out to the administration by chairmen and so on speaks legions about it," Issa said. Former Oversight Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), who now leads the Energy and Commerce Committee, "is sending out less than a quarter of what he was sending out when there was a different president and he was still chairman. And that's a shame, because he said that Republicans had not held President Bush to a high enough oversight standard."