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Last Updated: Friday, 20 June, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
US 'censored' green report
Anti-Bush demonstration
US environmental policies have caused worldwide anger
The White House has removed sections of a report by the US Government's own environmental agency to water down references to global warming, say senior Democrats.

The major report on the state of the environment is due for release from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) next week.

Democrat senators have accused the White House of "doctoring" the report so that it does not challenge President George W Bush's view that global warming is of minor environmental importance.

The report will be released as Christine Todd Whitman steps down as EPA chief, with a Republican closer to White House thinking on the environment tipped to replace her.

The draft of the EPA report was submitted to the White House earlier this year.

But the amendments demanded by the president's staff were so extensive that the climate section "no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change", according to an internal EPA memo quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

Christine Todd Whitman
Whitman: "Perfectly comfortable" with compromise
Eventually, EPA officials decided simply to remove most references to global warming, so that the other sections could be published.

The agency "didn't want to hold up the rest of the report", said spokesman Joe Martyak.

A White House official denied that any information was being suppressed, saying that it was mainly redundant or inaccurate material that had been removed.

"In the last year alone we've produced hundreds of pages on this very subject," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

According to EPA officials, details changed or removed include:

  • Climate change "has global consequences for human health and the environment" changed to "may have potentially profound consequences"
  • Graphic showing sharp rise in global temperatures during the 1990s replaced by a study, partly sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, disputing that finding
  • Finding that recent warming was unusual and probably due to human activity removed, despite being included in a report commissioned by the White House

Under attack

Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican state governor, played down the differences, saying "it was important for us to get this out" and that changes had been agreed.

"The first draft, as with many first drafts, contained everything," she told the New York Times, adding that she was "perfectly comfortable" with the final version.

But Democratic Senators Joe Lieberman and Bob Graham, both presidential hopefuls for next year's election, called for action against "those responsible for doctoring this report".

"It brings into question the ability and authority of the EPA... to publish unbiased scientific reports," they said.

Another Republican governor, Dirk Kempthorne of Idaho, is now being tipped to take over the EPA when Mrs Todd Whitman steps down next week.

Mr Kempthorne received a near-zero rating from the League of Conservation Voters when he was in the Senate from 1993-98.

He favours reducing the role of federal agencies like the EPA and dealing with environmental issues at the local level, seeking a "balance between pollution-free air and water and having a job for your family".

But Roger Singer, director of the Idaho chapter of the pressure group the Sierra Club, was unimpressed.

"His record on environmental issues is quite abysmal," he said.

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