Federal court ruling pending in lawsuit to compel new National Climate Change Assessment


A federal court ruling is pending in the Center for Biological Diversity et al. lawsuit against the U.S. Climate Change Research Program and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to compel the preparation of a new National Assessment of Climate Change. In July the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, directed the parties to file a supplemental briefing in response to several questions about the content of the assessment required by the Global Change Research Act and its relationship to the CCSP research plan. The government defendants have an August 3 deadline for filing their briefing. A ruling in the case could come at any time after that. See Details for links to Plaintiffs documents in the case and the detailed Declaration of Climate Science Watch Director Rick Piltz. 

In the case of Center for Biological Diversity, et al., v. Dr. William Brennan, et al., the Plaintiffs charge that the Bush administration is in violation of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 for terminating follow-on activity from the first National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) filed an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit and subsequently petitioned to be included as parties to the case.
CSW Director Rick Piltz prepared a 12,000-word Declaration in support of this lawsuit, accompanied by about 25 documentary exhibits. This Declaration presents an explanation and documentation of how the administration’s treatment of the National Assessment was without a meaningful legal or scientific basis—the administration has never made a public statement, honest or otherwise, in defense of its deep-sixing of the National Assessment. Rather, this action was entirely political, and in keeping with the administration’s bias against acknowledging and focusing on the likely consequences of climate change for the United States. The administration’s actions aligned it with the global warming disinformation campaign waged by such groups as the Competitive Enterprise Institute and the Marshall Institute.

Without attempting to adjudicate the case per se, which we will leave to the court, we believe—and have said repeatedly in testimony, interviews, talks, and blog posts—that the Bush administration’s suppression of official use of the first National Assessment report and its termination of the national climate change assessment process for connecting scientists to policymakers and society is the central climate science scandal of the administration.


Introduction to the case and links to relevant Plaintiffs documents and press statements

The Center for Biological Diversity et al. lawsuit

Memorandum of Amici Curiae John F. Kerry and Jay Inslee

Declaration of Rick Piltz

Exhibits A through Y that accompany the Piltz Declaration

Declaration of Dr. Michael MacCracken

See our earlier posts:

Conservation groups file suit against Bush administration to compel second National Assessment (November 14, 2006)

Press coverage and comment on the National Assessment lawsuit (November 16, 2006)

Toward a Second U.S. National Climate Change Assessment (January 4, 2006): Article by Rick Piltz originally published in Eos, the weekly publication of the American Geophysical Union.  “A second U.S. National Climate Change Assessment should be undertaken, based on advances since the 1990s in understanding the climate system and potential ecological and societal impacts of climate change in the United States. The new National Assessment should be developed as part of a process that institutionalizes a national climate change impacts assessment capability, i.e., an ongoing dialogue between scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders, with periodically updated, scientifically-based assessments.”

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