Suppressed Bush White House Climate Change Doc Finally Released

paper-docsIn honor of this year’s Blog Action Day theme — climate change — Triple Pundit would like to offer the following pundification: “Presidents come and go, but the science remains the same.”

A 2007 EPA report on global warming, suppressed by the Bush administration, was finally released under the Freedom of Information Act on Tuesday. The EPA “endangerment finding” (PDF), which warned the US must act to regulate greenhouse gases, or face catastrophic environmental damage, is in large part identical — in parts word-for-word — to the Obama administration’s own draft finding, made in April of this year.

Same Science, Different President

Environmental news service Greenwire requested the finding in 2007, but that request was denied by the Bush EPA.  Greenwire then successfully resubmitted their request to the current EPA. From the Greenwire article (via NYT):

“This draft finding demonstrates that in 2007 the science was as clear as it is today,” EPA spokeswoman Adora Andy said. “The conclusions reached then by EPA scientists should have been made public and should have been considered.”

The Obama administration’s own finding is now the basis of a carrot-and-stick approach by the White House to either prod Congress to act to curb GHG or allow the EPA to do so unilaterally. That finding differs from the Bush one in that it widens the scope of the potential impact of global warming, and lumps together six different gases to be regulated as greenhouse gases, rather than considering them separately. A final draft is expected to be released soon.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

For environmentalists, and simply concerned bystanders, the release of the “lost report” could be seen as a milestone of sorts.

The Bush White House had been called the most anti-science administration ever. On issue after issue, but especially on global warming, W. and his appointees drove well-intentioned and highly esteemed scientists mad — or out of government. The reasons were always political, and often as a result of lobbying from big business. From the Greenwire article:

Jason Burnett, at the time a top adviser to EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, wrote the original endangerment finding document and sent it to the White House for a final review. But congressional investigators last year determined that Bush ultimately backed down after hearing counterarguments from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney, the Office of Management and Budget, the Transportation Department, Exxon Mobil Corp. and others in the oil industry (E&E Daily, July 18, 2008).

(It should be noted that Jason Burnett, mentioned in the above quote, resigned from the Bush EPA in 2008, frustrated with the administration’s inaction on climate change.)

So, while there is plenty of reason to be anxious about the future fight against climate change, given the pessimism over Copenhagen and the shaky prospects of a Congressional bill, the release of the formerly suppressed report should be an inspiring reminder that, yes, there is such a thing as progress (and global warming).

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.

One response

  1. That our own federal government would suppress a report that indicates the real potential for disaster is hard to take, but when you understand that many on this planet place Profits & Power in front of People & Planet, it comes as no surprise.

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