Muckraker: Grist on Politics

Transition efforts at NASA are not going smoothly, reports Robert Block of the Orlando Sentinel:

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses.

In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said.

Griffin’s resistance is part of a no-holds-barred effort to preserve the Constellation program, the delayed and over-budget moon rocket that is his signature project.

NASA also plays a key role in climate science, and is the parent organization of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is directed by the agency’s top climate scientist, James Hansen.

Griffin has a history of making controversial remarks about global warming, such as, “I’m aware that global warming exists … Whether that is a longterm concern or not, I can’t say.” Last year, he said, “It is not NASA’s mission to make policy regarding possible climate change mitigation strategies” — which is true, because in 2006 he altered the agency’s mission statement to remove the phrase “to understand and protect our home planet.”