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Bush Ordered to Release Overdue Global-Warming Plan

By Karen Gullo and Tina Seeley (Bloomberg) - August 22, 2007

The Bush administration must release a climate-change research plan and scientific assessment report that are as much as two years overdue, a federal judge ruled, rejecting a White House claim that compliance with a law requiring the studies is discretionary.

U.S. District Judge Saundra Armstrong in Oakland, California, said yesterday that the administration violated a 1990 U.S. law requiring the government to produce the research plans every three years and the assessments every four years. She ordered a summary of the research plan to be produced by March and the assessment by May.

The administration “unlawfully withheld action” required under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, said Armstrong. The last research plan was in 2003, and the last assessment was published in 2000. Greenpeace International and two other environmental groups sued in November seeking a court order to produce the reports.

“Our courts have now told the Bush administration that `the dog ate my climate homework’ is no longer a valid excuse for ignoring global warming,” Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said in a statement today. “This administration has a long history of altering or suppressing science, and global warming is at the top of that list.”

Kristin Scuderi, a spokeswoman for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said in an e-mail today that the court’s ruling accepts “the administration’s means of compliance with the act. Though the court imposed certain deadlines, they are consistent with currently planned schedules.”

Considering Appeal

“Whether to appeal the court’s ruling is under discussion,” she said.

Bush, citing economic reasons, in March 2001 rejected the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty among industrial nations requiring cuts in carbon dioxide emissions and other gases linked to global warming.

China surpassed the U.S. last year as the top producer of carbon dioxide, according to an estimate published in June by the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, a research group for the Dutch government and international organizations.

The lawsuit stems from a 1990 law that directed the president to periodically issue reports that recommend climate change research and analyze the effects of climate change.

The Bush administration said in court filings that it determined “only recently that the initiation of a process to revise the research plan has become necessary and advisable” and that the government has discretion about how to handle the revised reports, which Armstrong said was “wrong.”

The case is Center for Biological Diversity v. Brennan, 4:06-cv-7062, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (Oakland).