Earlier this week, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Climate Change Science Program released a major report on the likely impacts of global climate change on transportation infrastructure across the Gulf Coast region. If you didn't hear about it yet, that's understandable -- DOT essentially buried the report while keeping its lead author kept from talking to the press. According to the Government Accountability Project:
...[T]he 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 Rick Piltz, director of the Government Accountability Project's Climate Science Watch. "It's as though they don't regard the report as significant -- or these findings have significant political implications for policymaking. Burying reports for this reason is wrong and unethical -- but we have seen it before."
To read the full report, click here. For Climate Science Watch's take on DOT's actions, click here.