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[greenyes] Bush Administration Edits Climate Change Out of Report
 NEW YORK TIMES - June 19, 2003
Report by the E.P.A. Leaves Out Data on Climate Change

he Environmental Protection Agency is preparing to publish a draft report
next week on the state of the environment, but after editing by the White
House, a long section describing risks from rising global temperatures has
been whittled to a few noncommittal paragraphs.

The report, commissioned in 2001 by the agency's administrator, Christie
Whitman, was intended to provide the first comprehensive review of what is
known about various environmental problems, where gaps in understanding
exist and how to fill them.

Agency officials said it was tentatively scheduled to be released early next
week, before Mrs. Whitman steps down on June 27, ending a troubled time in
office that often put her at odds with President Bush.

Drafts of the climate section, with changes sought by the White House, were
given to The New York Times yesterday by a former E.P.A. official, along
with earlier drafts and an internal memorandum in which some officials
protested the changes. Two agency officials, speaking on the condition of
anonymity, said the documents were authentic.

The editing eliminated references to many studies concluding that warming is
at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe
emissions and could threaten health and ecosystems.

Among the deletions were conclusions about the likely human contribution to
warming from a 2001 report on climate by the National Research Council that
the White House had commissioned and that President Bush had endorsed in
speeches that year. White House officials also deleted a reference to a 1999
study showing that global temperatures had risen sharply in the previous
decade compared with the last 1,000 years. In its place, administration
officials added a reference to a new study, partly financed by the American
Petroleum Institute, questioning that conclusion.

In the end, E.P.A. staff members, after discussions with administration
officials, said they decided to delete the entire discussion to avoid
criticism that they were selectively filtering science to suit policy.

Administration officials defended the report and said there was nothing
untoward about the process that produced it. Mrs. Whitman said that she was
"perfectly comfortable" with the edited version and that the differences
over climate change should not hold up the broader assessment of the
nation's air, land and water.

"The first draft, as with many first drafts, contained everything," she said
in a brief telephone interview from the CBS studios in Manhattan, where she
was waiting to tape "The Late Show With David Letterman."

"As it went through the review, there was less consensus on the science and
conclusions on climate change," Ms. Whitman said. "So rather than go out
with something half-baked or not put out the whole report, we felt it was
important for us to get this out because there is a lot of really good
information that people can use to measure our successes."

James L. Connaughton, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, a
White House advisory group, said, "It would be utterly inaccurate to suggest
that this administration has not provided quite an extensive discussion
about the state of the climate. Ultimately, E.P.A. made the decision not to
include the section on climate change because we had these ample discussions
of the subject already."

But private environmental groups sharply criticized the changes when they
heard of them.

"Political staff are becoming increasingly bold in forcing agency officials
to endorse junk science," said Jeremy Symons, a climate policy expert at the
National Wildlife Federation. "This is like the White House directing the
secretary of labor to alter unemployment data to paint a rosy economic

Drafts of the report have been circulating for months, but a heavy round of
rewriting and cutting by White House officials in late April raised protest
among E.P.A. officials working on the report.

An April 29 memorandum circulated among staff members said that after the
changes by White House officials, the section on climate "no longer
accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change."


Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell    (608) 438-9062
email: anderson@no.address

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