Four Republican senators have challenged the NSF’s funding of a program to help meteorologists understand the effects of climate change in their weather reporting. The challenge was instigated after the senators read an NBC news report on “Climate Matters”, a program started in 2012 by ClimateCentral.org, which provides information and scientifically reviewed climate theory to weathermen and forecasters. The senators objections were made in a letter to the NSF Inspector General, Allison Lerner. It charges that the foundation is seeking to, “influence political and social debate rather than conduct(ing) scientific research.” The letter contends that the foundation may have violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits federal employees from taking public political positions.
The CEO of Climate Central, Ben Strauss, rejected the contention. Via an email to NBC News, “Climate Central is not an advocacy organization, and the scientific consensus on climate change is not a political viewpoint.” He added that it was well-known that the science foundation supports science education. The complaint from the senators pointed to a 2012 Washington Post opinion column which accused Climate Central of bias. Strauss countered that the column had been soundly refuted at the time by the former CEO.