Enviros sue Bush for supressing climate data

From the AP, Nov. 15:

Environmentalists sued the Bush administration Tuesday for failing to produce a report on global warming’s impact on the country’s environment, economy and public health.

The lawsuit seeks to compel the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to issue the national assessment, which should contain the most recent scientific data on global warming and projections for its future impacts. The plaintiffs claim the government must complete such a report every four years under the Global Change Research Act of 1990.

“Global warming is one of the most serious threats facing humanity today,” according to the complaint. Without the report, decision makers and the public “are without one of the most important tools to grapple with this complex, potentially overwhelming and yet all important issue.”

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which was named in the lawsuit, had not received the complaint Tuesday and could not comment on it, said spokesman Ben Fallon.

But Fallon defended the administration’s record on combating global warming, pointing to increased funding for alternative energy research and partnerships with other countries.

“We feel very positive about our record on climate change,” Fallon said. “The president has been focused on results-driven research and looking for practical ways to address climate change in ways that aren’t damaging to the economy.”

Officials at the Climate Change Science Program, also named in the complaint, did not immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

The lawsuit was filed in federal court in San Francisco by the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace.

The assessment, which plaintiffs allege was due in November 2004, is the “first step in crafting solutions to the devastating consequences of climate change if we don’t act now,” said Julie Teel, an attorney for the plaintiffs.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who has also been calling on the administration to issue the assessment, expressed support for the lawsuit.

“It’s the right time to push Washington to grapple with this issue,” Kerry said in a statement. “For too many years, action on global climate change has been stopped dead in its tracks by government foot-dragging, hiding information and smothering science.”

Environmentalists have accused the administration of trying to suppress dissemination of the previous assessment, issued in 2000, which predicted a dramatic rise in catastrophic storms, floods, droughts and heat-related deaths.

The lawsuit comes as experts from around the world meet in Nairobi for the two-week U.N. climate conference, where they have been trying to set a course for future controls on global greenhouse gas emissions.

Scientists attribute at least some of the past century’s 1-degree rise in global temperatures to the accumulation in the atmosphere of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases, byproducts of power plants, automobiles and other fossil fuel-burning sources.

See our last post on global climate destabilization.

  1. McCain chimes in.
    I suspect we’ll see more of the ‘rats deserting sinking ship’ amongst Republicans as they attempt to stay relevant, but in fairness McCain was on this before the midterm elections. Wonder how much we’ll hear ‘broke the law’ in the next two years?

    From TPM Muckraker

    McCain: Bush Admin Breaks Laws to Hide Global Warming Data
    By Justin Rood – November 17, 2006, 1:35 PM

    “They’re simply not complying with the law. It’s incredible.”

    Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) raised eyebrows yesterday with that comment regarding the Bush administration, made before a crowd of several hundred at a Washington, D.C. event.

    At issue is a report on climate change that Congress requires every four years. The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is responsible for producing the document, last filed a report in 2000. A new report — the first to be filed by the Bush administration — was due in November 2004, but to date the agency has not done so.

    “When you get to that degree of obfuscation, then you get a little depressed,” McCain said, according to several attendees. McCain’s comments were also reported by the trade daily Environment and Energy.

    McCain has rapped the administration before over the long-overdue report.

    At a June 2005 hearing, McCain grilled Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Bush’s appointed chief of NOAA, over a GAO report chastising his agency for failing to deliver their findings on time.

    “Basically, they say you’re not complying with the law,” McCain told Lautenbacher.

    “Yes, sir,” the NOAA chief responded.

    “Are you complying with the law?” McCain asked.

    “I believe that we are complying with the law, yes sir,” Lautenbacher replied.

    “You know,” McCain said a few moments later, “you are really one of the more astonishing witnesses that I have [faced] — in the 19 years I’ve been a member of this [Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation] Committee.”

    Lautenberger explained that his staff was working on “pieces” of the report, and conceded the November 2004 deadline had been a “difficult requirement to meet.”

    McCain isn’t alone in wanting the study. On Tuesday, a trio of environmental groups announced they are suing NOAA to release the document.