July 18, 2017 – The American Association for the Advancement of Science has joined an amicus brief authored by the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund, a nonprofit founded in 2011 to defend climate scientists from what the brief calls “burdensome and invasive disclosure of scientists’ communications and preliminary analyses and drafts.”
The brief was filed July 17 with the Arizona Court of Appeals in a case involving the Arizona Board of Regents and the University of Arizona’s custodian of public records in their efforts to protect the emailed correspondence of two University of Arizona scientists. Among organizations joining AAAS in signing onto the brief are the American Meteorological Society and the National Academy of Sciences.
The Energy & Environment Legal Institute has been seeking the public release of 13 years of the emails of Jonathan Overpeck, a professor of geoscience and atmospheric sciences, and Malcolm Hughes, a regents’ professor at the university’s Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, who contributed to the “hockey stick” climate research that identified a sharp increase in Earth’s Northern Hemisphere temperatures.
The E&E Legal Institute, formerly called the American Tradition Institute and which describes its mission as “free-market environmentalism through strategic litigation,” asserts that transparency requires the release of the emails.
The Arizona Board of Regents and the University of Arizona’s custodian of public records contend that the documents are “presumptively exempt from disclosure” and that release of the documents would strike a blow to the scientific method of deliberation and collaboration and harm the university’s ability to attract scientific talent.