(Getty/Drew Angerer)

Trump disbands federal climate science committee

The Trump administration takes another step to signal its lack of interest in climate policy


Matthew Sheffield
August 21, 2017 8:42PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump started last week by signing an executive order loosening federal regulations on building projects in coastal areas and quietly ended the week by disbanding a federal advisory committee on climate change, The Washington Post reported.

The decision to not renew the charter for a government advisory panel charged with making recommendations for policymakers based upon scientific findings on climate science was announced on Friday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s acting administrator, Ben Friedman.

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Under U.S. law, the task of the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment, made up of 15 members who come from both the academy and the private sector, is to supervise the writing of policy recommendations based upon research generated by science. The advisory group was first formed in 2015 but will be disbanded after only two years of existence.

The National Climate Assessment report, the scientific basis for reports written by the 15-person committee, is supposed to be released every four years. Since the 1990 law which established the scientific panel, however, the report has only been released three times: 2000, 2009 and 2014.

In June, Trump announced that he was withdrawing the United States from a climate agreement that was reached in 2015 in Paris. Former-president Barack Obama had committed the country to following it; however, his promise was not legally binding since the so-called Paris Agreement is actually a treaty. Such agreements have not often been brought to vote in the U.S. Senate where they must be ratified, because such votes can be difficult for Democratic senators representing rural states.

19 of the 20 countries involved in the Paris negotiations had agreed to abide by the terms of the deal that emerged.

“The agreement is a massive redistribution of United States’ wealth to other countries,” Trump said during a June news conference announcement. “It’s to give their country an economic edge over the United States. That’s not going to happen as long as I’m president, I’m sorry.”

Last week, Trump also loosened federal regulations on building projects in coastal areas. The previous rule, put in place by the Obama administration, made real estate developers have to include higher sea levels in their building plans. It was opposed by the National Association of Home Builders, among others.

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Matthew Sheffield

A writer, web developer, and former tv producer, Matthew Sheffield covers politics, media, and technology for Salon. You can email him via m.sheffield@salon.com or follow him on Twitter.

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