U.S. Government Censors Another Climate Report

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“Reporters who have tried to interview the
report’s lead author, Federal Highway
Administration official Michael Savonis, have
been explicitly told by DOT officials that the
author and the press cannot communicate with each
other.”

“Federal scientists must be allowed direct
communication with the press, unimpeded by
politically-driven gatekeepers with an interest
in blocking the truth and playing down the
significance of climate research and assessment
findings.”
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 14, 2008
1:25 PM

Government Accountability Project

Climate Change Report Buried by DOT; Author Blocked From Reporters

WASHINGTON, DC – March 14 – This past Wednesday,
March 12, the U.S. Department of Transportation
(DOT) and the U.S. Climate Change Science Program
quietly released a major assessment report on the
likely impacts of global climate disruption on a
wide range of transportation infrastructure in
the Gulf Coast region. This report release was
buried by the DOT, and officials have been
blocking journalists from speaking with the
report’s lead author.


Specifically the report, Impacts of Climate
Change and Variability on Transportation Systems
and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, analyzes
how Gulf Coast roads and highways, transit
services, oil and gas pipelines, freight handling
ports, transcontinental railroad networks,
waterway systems, and airports are likely to be
harmed by heat waves, extreme precipitation
events, sea level rise, increased hurricane
intensity, and storm surge damage associated with
climate change. The report outlines why changes
must be incorporated in transportation planning
now in order to avoid serious future problems.

Three hours after the report was posted online
Wednesday, DOT issued an uninformative and
misleading press release on a separate Web site.
The press release lists only one contact – a DOT
press official. Reporters who have tried to
interview the report’s lead author, Federal
Highway Administration official Michael Savonis,
have been explicitly told by DOT officials that
the author and the press cannot communicate with
each other. As lead author, Savonis should be
allowed to brief and respond to press inquiries.

“What possible justification can there be for the
stealth release of this report?” asks Climate
Science Watch Director Rick Piltz. “It’s as
though they don’t regard the report as
significant – or these finding have significant
political implications for policymaking. Burying
reports for this reason is wrong and unethical –
but we have seen it before.

Climate Science Watch, a program of the
Government Accountability Project, is dedicated
to holding public officials accountable for the
integrity and effectiveness with which they use
climate science and related research in
government policymaking.

“Public access to federal scientific and
technical expertise is crucial to address the
growing problems of climate change and necessary
for society to make proper decisions,” added
Piltz. “Federal scientists must be allowed direct
communication with the press, unimpeded by
politically-driven gatekeepers with an interest
in blocking the truth and playing down the
significance of climate research and assessment
findings.”

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
non-profit, non-partisan advocacy organization
based in Washington, D.C.

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