Fans of open access to government-funded research have been pinning their hopes on an appropriations bill currently under consideration by the Senate. The bill, already passed by the House, would require that any manuscripts by researchers funded by the National Institutes of Health must be made publicly available "no later than 12 months after the official date of publication."
Late last Friday, a Republican senator introduced two amendments aiming to sabotage the open access provision. One would eliminate it entirely, the other would simply gut it.
Who is this man who would deny Americans access to the research that their tax dollars fund? A man scientists everywhere already love to hate: Oklahoma's James Inhofe, better known across the world as the politician most dedicated to preventing the United States from addressing the challenges of climate change; a man famous for calling global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."
The straightforward explanation for Inhofe's meddling is that he is doing the bidding of the publisher's lobby. But I think there's a more insidious strategy at play. Restricting access to peer-reviewed research makes it harder for the general public to get their hands on the state-of-the-art research documenting how human activity is causing global warming. Crafty, Sen. Inhofe, very crafty!
UPDATE: The Senate in favor of the bill Monday night, without the Inhofe amendments.