SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – A coalition of conservation groups filed suit today against the Bush administration for refusing to complete a National Assessment of the impact of global warming on the environment, economy, human health and human safety of the United States. The assessment, due in November of 2004, is required by the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Today’s action comes as U.S. representatives complete their participation in the final days of the United Nation’s world climate negotiations in Nairobi, Kenya. Plaintiffs in the lawsuit are the Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace.
“This administration has denied and suppressed the science of global warming at every turn,” said Julie Teel of the Center for Biological Diversity and one of the attorneys arguing the case. “The Bush administration was so threatened by the profound revelations of the 2000 assessment that it killed the 2004 update. They know the update will affirm what the world’s leading climate scientists believe: that we need immediate and substantial cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It is a complete head-in-the-sand approach to a looming global catastrophe.”
The last National Assessment, Climate Change Impacts on the United States: The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change, was issued October 31, 2000 . The findings confirmed that humans are contributing significantly to global warming and that current global warmth is “unprecedented.” Scientific conclusions within the 2000 assessment also predicted a doubling or tripling of heat-related deaths, intensified floods and droughts and the swamping of coastlines by rising seas and fiercer storms. It warned that “[l]ong-term observations confirm that our climate is now changing at a rapid rate…. The science indicates that the warming in the 21st century will be significantly greater than in the 20th century.”2
Teel says that not only has the administration failed to issue an updated National Assessment, but it worked to bury the findings of the 2000 assessment. She points to the 2005 resignation of Phil Cooney of the White House Council on Environmental Quality who went to work for ExxonMobil after it was revealed that he attempted to suppress use of the 2000 National Assessment and edit portions of other
climate reports in order to minimize the consequences of global warming.
The administration’s refusal to complete the assessment has been sharply criticized by Michael MacCracken, Ph.D., former director of the U.S. Global Climate Change Research Program and one of the authors of the 2000 National Assessment; Rosina Bierbaum, former acting director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which oversaw the production of the 2000 National Assessment; and Rick Piltz, former senior associate with the Climate Change Science Program . Piltz resigned in March 2005, declaring that the White House’s suppression of the 2000 assessment and subsequent refusal to produce a 2004 assessment comprise "the central climate science scandal of the Bush administration." .
In April 2005, at the request of Senators John Kerry and John McCain, the U.S. Government Accountability Office investigated the Bush administration’s failure to produce a 2004 assessment . It concluded that 1) the administration “did not submit a scientific assessment in November 2004, 4 years after the previous assessment, as required by the [Global Change Research] act,” 2) the administration expressly refuses to complete a single National Assessment, and 3) the White House’s piecemeal approach lacks an “explicit plan for…assessing the effects of global change on the eight areas enumerated in the act: the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity.”
“Unfortunately, the Bush administration has not complied with the law, nor has it been truthful with the American people or the world about the science of global warming,” said Danielle Fugere of Friends of the Earth. “This administration is better known for censoring government climate scientists than for providing accurate information.”
“The Bush administration’s disastrous business-as-usual approach to climate change is so isolated from the desires of mainstream America and the rest of the world that it cannot continue for long,” said Christopher Miller of Greenpeace. “State and local actions, Congressional action, and the will of the American people to successfully tackle climate change will shortly leave the President’s shameful lack of leadership in the dust.”
Scientific research continues to indicate that rapid climate change from human production of greenhouse gases threatens every aspect of society, from our economy and public health to water availability and biological diversity. Recent scientific literature documents the melting of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets at a rate faster than predicted. There is also evidence that the Arctic permafrost is beginning to melt, which will result in massive emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas methane. James Hansen, Ph.D.,NASA’s leading climate scientist, has warned that just 10 more years on current greenhouse gas emissions trajectories will commit us to large-scale, disastrous climate impacts.
 National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. Available at:
 Finger-pointing persists over White House's handling of 2000 report. Andrew Freedman and Lauren
Morello, Greenwire, October 3, 2006. Available at: www.eenews.net/special_reports/climate_change/
 Climate Change Assessment: Administration Did Not Meet Reporting Deadline. April 14, 2005 letter
from John B. Stephenson, Director, Natural Resources and Environment, U.S. Government Accountability
Office, to Senators John Kerry and John McCain.
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A copy of the Complaint and further information is available online at
The Center for Biological Diversity is a non-profit conservation organization with over 25,000 members
dedicated to the protection of imperiled species and their habitat. www.biologicaldiversity.org.
Greenpeace is a non-profit corporation with 250,000 U.S. members that uses peaceful protest and creative
communication to expose global environmental problems and promote solutions for the future.
Friends of the Earth is a non-profit conservation organization whose mission is to defend the environment
and ensure a healthy and just world. Friends of the Earth has 30,000 members across the U.S.