Of Course Trump Will Suppress New Report on US Climate Impacts

Has he called it “fake news” on Twitter yet?

There isn’t a chance in hell that the Trump administration will ever officially release the latest National Climate Assessment Report showing the severe risk carbon pollution poses to the United States. Trump will surely take a page from George W. Bush, who taught Trump all that he needs to know about suppressing inconvenient science.

It was just over a dozen years ago that the New York Times exposed the machinations of then-White House Council on Environmental Quality Chief of Staff Philip Cooney, who edited scientific reports to downplay the dangers of human-caused climate change; shortly after the Times ran the story, Cooney departed CEQ for a gig at ExxonMobil. In January 2006, the Times reported on the Bush asministration’s extensive efforts to slap a muzzle over the mouth of acclaimed climate scientist James Hansen, a story that promoted a 60 Minutes report about Bush’s climate censorship.

In 2007, Rolling Stone chronicled the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war against climate science:

“They’ve got a political clientele that does not want to be regulated,” says Rick Piltz, a former Bush climate official who blew the whistle on White House censorship of global-warming documents in 2005. “Any honest discussion of the science would stimulate public pressure for a stronger policy. They’re not stupid.”

Bush’s do-nothing policy on global warming began almost as soon as he took office. By pursuing a carefully orchestrated policy of delay, the White House has blocked even the most modest reforms and replaced them with token investments in futuristic solutions like hydrogen cars. “It’s a charade,” says Jeremy Symons, who represented the EPA on Cheney’s energy task force, the industry-studded group that met in secret to craft the administration’s energy policy…

As he shaped [the administration’s] climate policy, [Vice President] Cheney took his cues from the Global Climate Coalition, an alliance of anti-Kyoto [Protocol] polluters that included the top lobbying arms of the oil and coal industries. In June 2001, the administration dispatched Paula Dobriansky, the undersecretary of state for global affairs, to address the GCC at the headquarters of the American Petroleum Institute. In her speech, Dobriansky was glad to give the industry crowd credit for the president’s decision to withdraw from the international treaty designed to slow climate change. Her talking points from that day read, “POTUS rejected Kyoto, in part, based on input from you.”

Documents released under the Freedom of Information Act also reveal that Dobriansky had received a copy of the GCC’s “21st Century Climate Action Agenda,” a game plan crafted by polluting industries that calls for “a new approach to climate policy” focusing on “voluntary actions” rather than mandatory limits on greenhouse gases. On February 14th, 2002, Bush gave a speech at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that laid out his policy on global warming for the first time. The speech was a Valentine’s Day gift to polluters, officially enshrining the GCC’s agenda, almost point for point, as the White House’s climate policy. Under the plan, planet-warming pollution would actually increase by thirty-four percent by 2030. Bush vaguely promised to cut the “intensity” of carbon emissions by eighteen percent over the next ten years – neglecting to mention that the nation was already on track for a fourteen percent reduction. He touted $700 million in new funding for technologies that might someday reduce emissions – money that government auditors were later unable to find any trace of. And he promised that the entire plan would be thoroughly reviewed and re-evaluated – in 2012, four years after he left office.

Trump’s radicalism will inevitably make the Bush years seem like the good old days in terms of climate policy. Yes, Trump’s actions are occurring against the will of the American public, which overwhelmingly supports action to curb carbon pollution. However, what the public wants is very low on the list of Trump’s concerns.

There are many ways for the public to express their concerns about the climate crisis. (As previously noted, thanks to the profound incompetence of the marketing and distribution unit of Paramount Pictures, seeing An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power in theatres will not be one way for large segments of the American public to express their concerns.) Here’s an idea: how about calling your US Representative and Senators to ask them to condemn the Trump’s administration’s obvious reluctance to officially release the National Climate Assessment Report? If public will could protect health care for the people, couldn’t it also protect health care for the planet?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.