The White House has removed references to problems caused by global warming from next week’s Environmental Protection Agency report on the state of the environment. The report was commissioned in 2001 by EPA head Christie Whitman, who is leaving her federal job this month. The original climate information, along with the changes ordered by the White House, were slipped to the New York Times by a former EPA official. Two other agency officials say the documents are authentic.

In the draft returned to the EPA by the White House, the sentence, “Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment” was cut and replaced with, “The complexity of the Earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change, diagnose its causes, and develop useful projections of how natural variability and human actions may affect the global environment in the future.”

The eliminated material refers to many studies that conclude that warming is at least partly caused by rising concentrations of smokestack and tail-pipe emissions and can threaten health and ecosystems. A 2001 climate report by the National Research Council about the human contribution to global warming was removed, as well as references to a 1999 study showing that global temperatures have risen sharply in the last 10 years, compared with the last 1,000 years. In place of this, the administration added information from a study sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute that questions global warming.

An April 29 memorandum circulated among EPA staff members says that after the changes by White House officials, the section on climate “no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change.” Another memorandum says the easiest thing to do would be to accept the White House revisions but that to do so would compromise the agency, because “EPA will take responsibility and severe criticism from the science and environmental communities for poorly representing the science.”

“Political staff are becoming increasingly bold in forcing agency officials to endorse junk science,” says Jeremy Symons, of the National Wildlife Federation. “This is like the White House directing the secretary of labor to alter unemployment data to paint a rosy economic picture.”

The people who run things seem to think that if they don’t admit it’s real, it won’t happen. But those who know the facts think differently.

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