White House Advisers Accused of Blowing Off Climate Change

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Council on Environmental Quality refuses to respond to a 2008 petition demanding consideration of how climate change will affect food safety and the federal government's compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act, two groups claim in court.
     The International Center for Technology Assessment and the Center for Food Safety sued the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and Michael Boots, its acting chairman, in Federal Court, claiming more than six years have passed without a response since the groups filed their petition.
     "With the effects of climate change becoming more and more evident, prompt action is necessary to ensure that climate change analysis is integrated into all levels of federal agencies' planning," the complaint states.
     The groups filed the petition in 2008, calling on "CEQ to require consideration and analysis of climate change impacts in federal agency environmental compliance documents under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)."
     The petition demands that the CEQ amend its regulations to include clarifying language so that climate change effects will be addressed in NEPA compliance documentation. The petition also calls on the CEQ to issue a memo clarifying that NEPA regulations require that climate change effects be addressed.
     The groups claim the government ignored the petition while "evidence of climate change impacts has continued to mount and gain in severity and urgency."
     The Center for Food Safety is particularly concerned with how climate change will affect food sources and how food production and agricultural practices will affect climate change.
     "Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, more than a third of the carbon dioxide added to the atmosphere has come from poor soil management. In that same time, we have lost an estimated fifty to eighty percent of our topsoil worldwide," the complaint states.
     The groups say that food-borne disease and nutritional deficiencies rates will increase as the effects of climate change increase.
     "In 2013, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development issued a report evaluating global issues of food security," the complaint states. "According to the report, climate change 'has the potential to damage irreversibly the natural resource base on which agriculture depends, with grave consequences for food security.'"
     The CEQ coordinates federal environmental efforts and advises the White House on environmental policies and initiatives.
     The office was established under NEPA in 1969.
     "Plaintiffs' members' concrete interests in their health, environmental protection and economic security are being and will be adversely affected by CEQ's continued failure to respond to the 2008 petition," the groups claim.
     "Specifically, plaintiffs' members are suffering or will suffer an ongoing threat to their health, their children's health, and the health of their environment as long as climate change remains unaddressed by CEQ."
     The groups seek a declaration that CEQ violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to timely respond to their petition, and an order forcing a response.
     They are represented by Center for Food Safety staff attorney Peter Jenkins.