Emails Sought to Expose Fossil Fuel Industry Role in Trump's Climate Advisory Committee Dismissal

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Emails Sought to Expose Fossil Fuel Industry Role in Trump's Climate Advisory Committee Dismissal

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity submitted Freedom of Information Act requests today for emails and other public records related to the Trump administration’s decision to disband a federal climate advisory panel. Today’s requests also seek records that would illuminate whether the administration plans to censor or delay the upcoming fourth “National Climate Assessment.”

“Dumping a whole panel full of expert advisors shows how badly Trump wants to avoid hearing the truth about climate change,” said Howard Crystal, a senior attorney at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “Eliminating expert input for the National Climate Assessment is an enormous threat to public safety and a win for the fossil fuel industry. Americans have a right to know who or what influenced this disturbing decision.”

The Trump administration announced Aug. 18 that it was disbanding the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment. The 15-person panel, created in 2015 by the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, advised both public and private sectors on long-term climate change planning. This included analyzing the effects of current and projected climate change on ecosystems, public health, agriculture, energy production and infrastructure.

Through today’s request to the agency, the Center seeks to uncover who was involved in the decision to terminate this committee, the factors considered and how the committee’s unfinished work will be completed.

Separately, the Center is sending records requests to all agencies that participate in the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, which plays a central role in preparing the National Climate Assessment. The Center aims to learn whether the timely release of the next assessment, due in 2018, is now in jeopardy.

A 1990 law requires the federal government to issue a National Climate Assessment, a report summarizing the current and future impacts of climate change on the United States, every four years. But the assessment has only come out three times since the law’s passage. In 2006 the Center successfully sued President George W. Bush after his administration repeatedly stalled the release of a previous assessment.

“As we did with the Bush administration, we will pursue all legal options to make sure this scientific assessment of climate threats to America, which is crucial to planning for our future under climate change, is released,” Crystal said.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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