November 19, 2017
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Maine environmental advocates pan Trump’s climate stance despite release of federal report

By Bill Trotter, BDN Staff
Courtesy of The Washington Post | BDN
Courtesy of The Washington Post | BDN
The former top climate policy official at the Department of Interior filed a complaint on July 19 and a whistleblower disclosure form with the Office of Special Counsel. The official, Joel Clement, says the Trump administration is threatening public health and safety by trying to silence scientists like him.

Climate experts and environmental advocates from Maine are not hopeful that the release Friday of a federal report on climate change represents a softening in the Trump administration’s stance on the causes of climate change.

The Washington Post reported Friday that The White House did not try to block the release of the Climate Science Special Report — the first installment of the quadrennial National Climate Assessment — even though its findings sharply contradict the administration’s policies.

The report supports widespread scientific consensus that climate change is driven almost entirely by human action, warns of possible dramatic sea level rise in the next century, and describes myriad climate-related damages already occurring in the United States.

“I am very surprised that the Trump White House allowed it to be published,” said Joel Clement, a Maine native and former official at Department of Interior who left his job last month after filing a whistleblower complaint against the Trump administration. “It flies in the face of everything they are saying.”

[Interior Department whistleblower from Maine resigns, calling Ryan Zinke’s leadership a failure]

Lisa Pohlmann, executive director of Natural Resources Council of Maine, said that she does not interpret the White House’s lack of attempts to block the release of the report or its silence on it as a change of heart. She would be more encouraged if Scott Pruitt, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, publicly reversed his opposition to Obama-era environmental initiatives such as the Climate Protection Plan and his vocal support of the fossil fuel industry, she said.

“I don’t know how to interpret [the White House’s willingness to release the report], but I do think it puts them in an awkward position,” Pohlmann said. “Actions on the ground speak louder than silence.”

[Environmental groups denounce Trump override of climate plan]

Federal law requires the administration produce and publish the report, which is “the most current and comprehensive summary of climate science in the world,” said Clement, who was the primary Interior official responsible for reviewing the paper before he was reassigned and then left the department. The report authors examined and reviewed approximately 1,500 studies, he added.

“It was such a transparent process that I think it was just too far along for [the White House] to sabotage,” Clement said. “[The report’s release] signals just how clumsy and haphazard the administration has been with their inexplicable denial of science and fact.”

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