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White House reportedly wants task-force to rethink climate assessments



The White House is assembling a team of scientists to reevaluate the government’s climate findings, according to a report from The Washington Post.

The informal task-force, a National Security Council-led initiative that wouldn’t be subject to the same oversight and disclosure requirements as a formal advisory committee, would include scientists representing a mixture of opinions, including those skeptical of the role humans are playing in warming the planet, sources told the Post.

A range of government researchers have issued stark warnings about climate change and the risks it poses. That includes the National Climate Assessment released in November by a broad group of federal agencies as well as a report from the national intelligence director last month, each warning that weather-related climate hazards are growing worse.

Administration officials reportedly met Friday to discuss how best to form a group of federal researchers that could scrutinize government climate reports.

At the meeting, officials reportedly said Trump was displeased at the release of the National Climate Assessment, the findings of which Democrats have used to push for a Green New Deal that calls for cuts to carbon emissions.

Plans for the new group haven’t been finalized, and it isn’t clear what impact or power it might wield.

While some experts told the Post they worried such a group could harm national security by casting doubt on scientific consensus regarding the risks of climate change, others were skeptical the task-force would have a substantive impact given the amount of extant and ongoing research around the world.

“When it comes down to climate change, we are talking about thousands of independent papers, from everywhere, finding exactly the same thing: that the climate is changing, that we are doing it and that most often than not, the impacts are pretty bad,” Camilo Mora, a geographer and environmental professor at the University of Hawaii, told the Post in an email.

Under Trump, the government’s environmental policies have changed substantially. In January, Trump signed an executive order allowing for more logging on public lands. In December 2018, Trump’s EPA lifted certain emission restrictions on coal plants. In July 2018, Trump’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed rolling back certain rules pertaining to the Endangered Species Act.

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