Former Director of Climate Program Office: “Administration should be held to a higher standard”

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The director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Office until March 2006 calls for a “full soup-to-nuts national assessment” of climate change impacts.

In its August 21 2007 decision regarding Center for Biological Diversity et al. v. Dr. William Brennan et al., a Federal judge ordered the Bush Administration to produce a scientific assessment of climate change as required under Section 106 of the Global Change Research Act (GCRA). However, the court did not specify the form the assessment should take. The judge noted that the plaintiffs…

“…have expressed concern with the defendants’ stated plan to issue twenty-one separate reports rather than a single Scientific Assessment… The plaintiffs have not, however, specifically requested the Court to order the production of a single Scientific Assessment, so the Court does not reach this issue. Moreover, while the Act specifies the time for submitting the Assessment, as well as particular elements to be analyzed and evaluated, Congress has not likewise clearly dictated the form the Assessment must take. Thus, while the report(s) must be submitted within the period directed by statute, the precise organization of the report(s) is left open by the Act.”

The Administration asserts that the judge’s order is an endorsement of its plan to meet the GCRA requirement by publishing six separate "synthesis and assessment" reports, each focused on a separate topic. This has drawn a rebuke from Richard Moss, Director of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (known under the Bush Administration as the U.S. Climate Change Science Program) until March 2006. According to Science magazine ("Judge Orders More Timely U.S. Reports," by Eli Kintisch, 31 August 2007):

Richard Moss, who ran the climate change office under Bush until 2006, called it "unfortunate" that the ruling criticized the timing of the reports but failed to force CCSP to integrate its findings. "The Administration should be held to a higher standard than just what a judge finds follows the letter of the law," says Moss, adding that Americans deserve a "full soup-to-nuts national assessment" of how climate change will impact them. [emphasis added]

 


See our coverage of the court order:

See also our extensive coverage of Assessments of Climate Impacts and Adaptation.

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