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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Protecting researchers from climate denier trolls

McEntee-Craven bill that shields higher education researchers from climate change denier attacks passes House

Rep. Carol Hagan McEntee’s legislation (2016-H 8124 Sub A) that would protect scholarly research by faculty members of the state’s higher education institutions from public records requests until the researchers are prepared to publish their work was passed by the House of Representatives. 

The legislation, cosponsored by Rep. Robert E. Craven, was drafted in response to concerns of faculty at Rhode Island’s higher education institutions regarding public records requests being made by climate change deniers in hopes of disrupting research on the subject being done at the institutions.

“I sponsored this legislation because it was brought to my attention that a disturbing national trend is taking place in an effort to disrupt critical and important research concerning climate change at our country’s universities,” said Representative McEntee (D-Dist. 33, South Kingstown, Narragansett).  

“Our nation’s colleges and universities have thrived due to the academic freedom to research topics without bending to political pressure and with a topic as important to us all as climate change, I believe our researchers should be able to do their job without fear of harassment.”

“It’s crucial that our researchers are allowed to work on such important topics as climate change without being disrupted due to political harassment,” said Representative Craven (D-Dist. 32, North Kingstown).

This act would provide that preliminary drafts, notes, impressions, memoranda, working papers and work products including those involving research at state institutions of higher education on commercial, scientific, artistic, technical or scholarly issues, whether in electronic or other format, would not be deemed a public record for purposes of public access to public records.

The legislation would take effect upon passage and now heads to the Senate for consideration.