On Wednesday, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a libertarian think tank, filed a lawsuit against the White House, claiming that a video produced by the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) violates a law that requires federal agencies to provide the public with accurate, objective information. 

How did the White House violate this law? By featuring John Holdren, the director of the OSTP, giving a two-minute lesson on how global warming can actually lead to freezing weather formations, such as the Polar Vortex that afflicted much of the northern and eastern U.S. earlier this year.

“If you’ve been hearing that extreme cold spells, like the one that we’re having in the United States now, disproves global warming, don’t believe it,” says Dr. Holdren in the video.

As the world warms, the air streams between the poles and the mid-latitudes of the globe exchange more frequently, leading the cold-core system that circles the Arctic to become “wavier,” sending colder air lower down on the northeastern region of the U.S. and warmer air further into the Arctic.

“I believe the odds are that we can expect as a result of global warming to see more of this pattern of extreme cold in the midlatitudes and some extreme warm in the far north,” concludes Holdren.

In April 2014, CEI argued that in producing this video, the White House violated the Data Quality Act. They base this claim on the fact that scientists dispute Holdren’s conclusion, citing an article in the Washington Post and a blog post from the Cato Institute.

The White House initially responded to the CEI by saying that the Polar Vortex video presented an opinion and is not subject to the DQA. The CEI then filed a Freedom of Information Act request for all documents and email discussions related to Holdren’s video. The White House claims these documents contain “privileged material,” which triggered the filing of CEI’s lawsuit.

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