Nov. 17, 2006 – A coalition of environmental groups sued the Bush administration this week for disregarding a congressional order to assess the impact of global warming.
Congress required the assessment under the Global Change Research Act of 1990.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth filed the suit in a US District Court in California on Tuesday. The suit argues that the federal government is more than two years late in submitting a national assessment analyzing the effects of climate change on various environmental, economic and social systems.
The law, which mandates a national assessment at least every four years, also requires an analysis of both human-induced and natural trends in global climate change.
Plaintiffs say the failure to produce this assessment impairs decision-makersâ€™ ability to create policies that address climate change.
The suit names as defendants the US Climate Change Science Program, the US Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering and Technology.
"This administration has denied and suppressed the science of global warming at every turn," attorney Julie Teel of the Center for Biological Diversity said in a press statement.
The first national assessment was submitted to Congress in October 2000. It examined possible harmful effects of climate change in specific economic sectors and regions of the United States, but did not assess specific ways to mitigate the projected problems.
The second assessment was due in 2004.
Teel speculated that the Bush administration was "threatened" by the 2000 assessment and "killed the 2004 update."
"They know the update will affirm what the worldâ€™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," said Teel.
In response to a letter sent to the defendants in November 2005 inquiring about the overdue assessment, federal officials responded that they could provide 21 individual reports in lieu of the national assessment.
Plaintiffs contacted federal officials again in September to inquire about compliance with the Act, but they stated in the complaint that as of Tuesday, the government had yet to respond.
The suit asks the court to order the federal government to produce the climate change assessment.