The Bush administration has withdrawn its support for Robert Watson, the American atmospheric scientist who is seeking re-election as head of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change when it holds its election later this month in Geneva. The State Department says it will support Rajendra Pachauri, the Indian government?s nominee, to become the next chair. The move, which was quietly announced, brings allegations that the administration is selling out to oil industry lobbyists, who have been trying to get rid of Watson.

The oil industry criticism of Watson includes a letter sent by to the White House by ExxonMobil on February 6, 2001, soon after the Bush administration took office. In it, Randy Randol, ExxonMobil?s senior environmental adviser, accused Watson of pushing a ?personal agenda? and said he had criticized the United States for not doing more to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide and other gases associated with global warming.

The letter was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that wants tougher U.S. global warming policies.

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