Thought Piece

I find myself thinking that the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) is too political and morally superior by 10. “Dumping a whole panel full of expert advisors show how badly Trump wants to avoid hearing the truth about climate change,” according to Howard Crystal, a senior attorney for CBD’s Climate Law Institute.

The Center has filed a FOIA surrounding the decision to terminate the newly formed (2 years) NOAA’s Advisory Committee of Nation Climate Assessment.

In addition, the CBD has filed a flurry of requests to have access to all information to do with President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

First, it is worth mentioning that the Trump administration like President Obama administration has executive privilege for all its internal communications. The decision making for any administration’s White House is protected, while all federal agencies communications are considered public documents.

Then, there is the fact that the previous EPA and Gina McCarthy have been keeping most of their internal and external communications secret for the last 8 years. Where have the alarmed environmentalists been while the last administration operated without granting access to what essentially are public records of the EPA?

Group seeks documents on disbanded advisory panel

The Center for Biological Diversity is seeking answers from the Trump administration on its decision to disband a federal climate panel, ending the NOAA committee’s two-year run.

The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment was a 15-member panel of academics, industry representatives, government officials and nonprofit leaders tasked with deciding how to use the National Climate Assessment for long-term resilience planning.

“Dumping a whole panel full of expert advisors shows how badly Trump wants to avoid hearing the truth about climate change,” Howard Crystal, a senior attorney at CBD’s Climate Law Institute, said in a statement.

“Eliminating expert input for the National Climate Assessment is an enormous threat to public safety and a win for the fossil fuel industry,” he said. “Americans have a right to know who or what influenced this disturbing decision.”

The environmental group submitted a slew of Freedom of Information Act requests today seeking emails, call logs and notes from NOAA and all agencies that participate in the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, which plays a central role in preparing the National Climate Assessment.

The 1990 Global Change Research Act mandated a National Climate Assessment every four years, but there have been just three editions since the law’s passage. A draft of the fourth report is due next year.

In 2007, the CBD successfully sued President George W. Bush after his administration delayed the release of the third installment of the climate analysis (E&E News PM, Aug. 21, 2007).

The court ordered the administration to issue the assessment by May 31, 2008. Bush’s team issued the analysis two days before that deadline.

“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.

Julie Roberts, NOAA communications director, said disbanding the panel won’t affect the completion of the fourth climate assessment, “which remains a key priority for the Department [of Commerce] and NOAA,” she wrote in an email (Greenwire, Aug. 21).

CBD has filed 29 lawsuits against this administration and added a congressional lobbying arm (Greenwire, July 25).

It has also been seeking answers on the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, filing a handful of FOIA requests for documents relating to meetings between President Trump, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, U.S. EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and other officials (E&E News PM, Aug. 23).