An Investigation Reveals Concerns for the Treatment of the National Climate 

Assessment under an Administration Skeptical of Climate Science


WASHINGTON – Today, the Government Accountability Project (GAP)’s Climate Science & Policy Watch (CSPW) is publishing a report on the suppression of the first National Climate Assessment during the administration of President George W. Bush. By detailing how officials systematically censored sensitive climate change information and allowed fossil-fuel backed interests groups to unfairly challenge the authority of the United States Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the paper presents a strong case for supporting and defending the USGCRP and the climate change impacts assessment process, especially in an oil-friendly administration.

The paper outlines a troubling precedent that could be followed to silence, or at least stifle, scientific facts that demonstrate the problematic consequences of anthropogenic climate change. This blueprint of suppression is quite relevant today. As former CSPW fellow and author Jonah Hahn explained:

“Given the outright antagonism toward governmental climate science institutions demonstrated by President Trump and his appointees, there are clear paths they might follow to limit the effectiveness or communication of critical programs such as the USGCRP.”

Dedicated to Rick Piltz, the founder and former leader of CSPW and a winner of the Ridenhour Prize for Truth-Telling for exposing the extensive editing of climate science documents by the Bush White House, the paper analyzes and presents his revelations of the documented attempts to remove references to National Climate Assessments during the George W. Bush Administration. Acting CSPW Director Michael Termini further shared why the lessons learned from this scandal are so important today:

“This cautionary tale is profoundly relevant at this critical moment in history as another oil-friendly administration now comes into power. Rick would surely tell us that a watchdog is needed now more than ever. In my view, this paper is his clarion call, forcing us to finally learn the all-too-timely lessons of what he so often called the central scandal of the George W. Bush Administration. I believe Rick would stand firmly by this important contribution and I am honored that we could make this argument for him.”

Rick showed that the best way to protect climate science agencies is to empower scientists to speak up and blow the whistle on any effort to quiet, destroy, or manipulate science in the interest of a political agenda.

The paper presents itself as a “cautionary tale” in the hope that history will not repeat itself. As Piltz’ attorney Louis Clark, GAP’s ED & CEO, states in the paper’s preface:

“If efforts to suppress scientific findings on climate again become both policy and practice, hopefully this paper will help us identify familiar patterns and publicly expose ‘clear and present dangers,’ as well as rally new whistleblowers and other forces of enlightenment to fight back. If they do, I predict that these new climate deniers and fossil fuel devotees and sycophants will once again see their efforts stymied and their legacies swept into the dustbin of history.”

Contact: Katie Miller, GAP Communications Officer
Phone: 202.457.0034, ext. 125

Government Accountability Project

The Government Accountability Project is the nation’s leading whistleblower protection organization. Through litigating whistleblower cases, publicizing concerns and developing legal reforms, GAP’s mission is to protect the public interest by promoting government and corporate accountability. Founded in 1977, GAP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C.