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The Environmental Program at GAP protects whistleblowers who expose actions that threaten the environment. Scientists, contractors and other employees can turn to GAP when they see actions suppressed that may be in the public interest. The program focuses on three areas: proper application of climate science data, the actions of environmental agencies, and nuclear facility oversight.
In 2005, GAP worked with Rick Piltz, former senior associate in the coordination office of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, to expose improper and misleading editing and censorship of global warming science program reports intended for the public and Congress. GAP released evidence to The New York Times that documented the actual editing by White House Counsel on Environmental Quality Chief of Staff Philip Cooney, an attorney and former climate team leader with the American Petroleum Institute (API), presumably done to minimize the arguments for human causation, potentially harmful effects, and to emphasize uncertainty in the underlying science. The revelations sparked an immediate media frenzy that resulted in the resignation of the former lobbyist who, days later, was hired at ExxonMobil.
GAP has a long history of monitoring nuclear energy and weapons plants to ensure hazardous materials are handled properly. This nuclear program, which featured some of the largest cases undertaken by GAP during the 1980s, fosters citizen activism and governmental accountability. GAP seeks to mitigate the environmental, safety, health, and economic consequences of nuclear research and weapons development by protecting and advocating for whistleblowers.
In Washington State, GAP has a long history of monitoring the troubled Hanford Nuclear Site, which holds the distinction of being the single most contaminated place in the United States and one of the largest environmental remediation projects in the world.
GAP has also taken a public stand with other groups against the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a federal plan designed to import the nuclear waste of other countries into the U.S. to reprocess “spent fuel.”
The origins of the Environment Program at GAP can be credited to Rick Piltz, but also to Dr. James Hansen, the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies. In 2006, GAP represented the prominent climate scientist when he blew the whistle on attempts by NASA officials and the Bush administration to silence him from speaking out about the dangers of global warming.
GAP conducted a year-long investigation into the gagging and suppression of the free speech of federal climate scientists, which resulted in two landmark reports released in 2007 now recognized as significant studies within this field of science.