Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, October 3, 2017

Contact: Howard Crystal, (202) 809-6926,

Lawsuit Challenges Trump Administration's Refusal to Release Records on Climate Committee Dismissal

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Trump administration today for refusing to release public records about its sudden termination this summer of a federal climate advisory committee. The expert committee was working in support of the next National Climate Assessment, a congressionally mandated scientific report on global warming’s threats to the United States.

“After axing a panel full of climate experts, the Trump administration is illegally refusing to release public records about what motivated that dangerous decision,” said Howard Crystal, a senior attorney at the Center’s Climate Law Institute. “Kicking these experts to the curb is a ridiculous rejection of scientific reality that will leave us even less prepared for monster hurricanes and other climate change devastation.”

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeks records about the Trump administration’s Aug. 18 announcement that it was disbanding the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment.

The 15-person panel, created by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration in 2015, advised the public and private sectors on long-term climate change planning. This included analyzing the effects of current and projected climate change on ecosystems, public health, agriculture, energy production and infrastructure. The administration has not explained whether or how these efforts will continue without the committee.

The Center submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for relevant records to the agency on Aug. 31, but the agency failed to provide any response by the mandated deadline. The request seeks records on who was involved in the decision, the factors considered and how the committee’s unfinished work will now be completed.

A 1990 law requires the federal government to issue a National Climate Assessment every four years, but the assessment has only come out three times since the law’s passage.

In 2006 the Center successfully sued President George W. Bush after his administration repeatedly stalled the release of a previous Assessment. It is unclear how the advisory committee’s sudden elimination will affect the Fourth Assessment, due in 2018.

“We need to find out whether the administration nixed the committee as part of a plan to censor or delay the upcoming National Climate Assessment,” Crystal said. “We’ll fight in court to prevent any interference with this crucial scientific report.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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