A climate change assessment the White House is currently reviewing will be used to stymie the Trump administration’s agenda, according to former transition team officials.
The Trump administration plans on approving a climate report highlighted in a front page New York Times article, which claims it “directly contradicts claims by President Trump and members of his cabinet” on global warming. That report will likely be used to protect a key pillar of the Obama administration’s legacy from being undone.
“The National Climate Assessment (NCA) will be used to thwart President Trump’s energy and environmental agenda and to protect the endangerment finding,” Myron Ebell, who headed the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) transition team, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Conservatives have been pressing EPA to reconsider the document that gave the agency the power to regulate greenhouse gases. Two groups have already petitioned EPA to reconsider the finding.
Another former EPA transition team member, David Schnare, said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt should “call a meeting of the council” that oversees the NCA and “get the existing political appointees to hold up the draft until a full scientific review is done by a balanced set of scientists.”
The National Climate Assessment is released every four years with input from scientists and policy experts inside and outside the federal government. The White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) coordinated the last three climate assessments.
The problem is Trump hasn’t appointed anyone to head OSTP, and the NCA hasn’t been a major focus at EPA or the Department of Energy, both of which have input on the assessment.
“This is what happens when you don’t appoint people in a timely way to key scientific and administrative positions at OSTP, NOAA, NASA, and other agencies,” Ebell said.
Schnare said the NCA draft as it currently stands will be used against any Trump administration attempt to review the 2009 Endangerment Finding.
“EPA is not bound by the OSTP work, but it becomes a ‘heavy lift’ if EPA does not get the OSTP product redone as it must redo the work in a manner that gives a ‘reasonable basis’ for EPA to fly in the face of the assessment,” Schnare told TheDCNF.
“They need one that fully reflects all the data and none of the invalid modeling. Mostly, it’s the bad assumptions in the models that are the problem,” he said.
Schnare resigned from EPA in March over deep-seated disagreements with Pruitt’s management of the agency. Schnare also served on the transition team with Ebell.
In a recent op-ed he warned Obama administration holdovers were pushing an NCA-related report to “parrot an alarmist view of the ‘settled’ science.”
The Trump administration has no plans to block or delay the draft climate report currently being reviewed at the White House. However, Trump has also not put forward nominees for OSTP or any other key science posts.
Pruitt has backed a “red team, blue team” approach to debating pressing climate science questions, mirroring what the military does to test the strength of different strategies. Many climate scientists have criticized the approach, but Schnare said it could work.
“The Red team, Blue team concept needs to be applied in the NCA process, but not in an adversarial manner, just in a discussion manner, with a fair and honest report writer re-drafting the assessment,” Schnare said.
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