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White House removes Trump-appointed scientist from overseeing climate report

The Biden administration has removed Trump-appointed atmospheric scientist Betsy Weatherhead from her role overseeing a comprehensive report on how climate change is affecting the United States, the Washington Post first reported on Monday.

Why is this important: Weatherhead was not fired – simply reassigned to the US Geological Survey – the move represents an effort by the Biden administration to remove Trump-era appointees from scientific roles, according to CNN.

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To note: This decision could cause further delays for the next edition of the National Climate Assessment, which is mandated by Congress to be produced every four years.

The big picture: Weatherhead’s initial appointment to the post in November came as a surprise given that she is a mainstream climatologist whose work reflects climate change as a serious threat – unlike others appointed by Trump.

  • However, Weatherhead reportedly clashed with some of the other officials involved over the “direction of the report,” according to the Post.

What they say: Jane Lubchenco, a senior White House climate official who ultimately oversaw Weatherhead in his post, told Axios in an interview Monday that the White House is committed to producing a “solid” and “effective” assessment.

  • “All I can really say is that Ms. Weatherhead’s detail ends, she goes back to USGS, her home agency,” Lubchenco, who serves as deputy director for climate and environment in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. mentionned. “We are very grateful to him for his service.”

  • Lubchenco has left open the possibility that the next assessment, currently scheduled for 2023, may be subject to further delays. “We will do everything we can to meet the schedule, but that remains to be seen, I guess,” she said.

Go back: The latest climate assessment, released in 2018, warned of increasingly damaging climate impacts for the United States, increasing the possibility of serious economic damage in the decades to come.

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated with Lubchenco’s comment.

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