Court should force administration to complete climate-change report
It's high time the Bush administration stopped ignoring the law on global warming. A lawsuit was filed in November against the...
Special to The Times
It's high time the Bush administration stopped ignoring the law on global warming.
A lawsuit was filed in November against the White House for failing to complete the second installment of a legally required federal report on the impacts of global warming in the United States. Lawmakers need information from this "national assessment" to fulfill our promise to Americans who are ready to tackle global warming and create a clean-energy future for our nation.
Recently, Justice Department officials filed a motion to dismiss the case because they claim the original plaintiffs — three nonprofit conservation groups — have no standing in court. They contend that the global-warming report is intended for Congress, not the general public.
Lawmakers and all Americans have a right to know the potential effects on our nation of continued increases in global temperatures, and should demand that the White House produce this legally mandated assessment. To make sure legal action on the report isn't derailed on a technicality, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and I filed a motion to join the lawsuit as plaintiffs.
It's unusual for sitting members of Congress to sue the executive branch, but congressional requests for completion of the climate-change assessment have fallen on deaf ears. The administration refuses to follow the law and must be held accountable.
Under the U.S. Global Change Research Act of 1990, the federal government is required to produce a scientific report every four years that identifies potential impacts of global warming on the environment, economy and human health and safety in the United States.
The first installment of the global-warming report was produced in 2000. Even though only two computer-climate models were available at the time, the report provided valuable information that helped inform science-based climate policies. Today, more than 20 models are available, vastly increasing reliability and predictive ability.
The second installment of the national assessment, capable of providing even more valuable information to researchers and environmental managers, should have been finished in 2004. But in April 2005, the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office reported that the Bush administration violated the 1990 act by failing to produce the report on schedule, and by having no explicit plan for completing it.
Americans have the will and the talent to address climate change. But time isn't a luxury we enjoy. We no longer can allow fiction writers, oil executives and foot-draggers at the White House to stall our progress on finding solutions.
The courts should tell the administration to stop ignoring the law and complete the second global-warming-impact assessment.
This report would help provide the scientific information that America's innovators, entrepreneurs, government officials and policymakers need to adapt successfully to a warming world and to ignite the clean-energy revolution that will prevent more damaging climate changes from occurring.
Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, recently was appointed to the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
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