A conservation group is seeking documents from the Trump administration to explain why the Fifth National Climate Assessment has already been delayed.
The report, released every four years, often paints a dire picture while summarizing the breadth of science on climate change.
Though due in 2022, the website for the report already anticipates delivery by the end of 2023.
Critics have said they are concerned the administration may be intentionally delaying the report following an article in E&E News last week that the administration had not yet put out a call for the researchers who help draft the assessment.
“Refusing to take the basic steps to prepare the next Climate Assessment is outrageous and dangerous,” Howard Crystal, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a release.
“We can’t prepare for the droughts, floods, fires and hurricanes to come unless we understand how climate change is affecting our country. Congress set a strict four-year timetable for these reports precisely because timely information related to climate change is so important, and the agency must move forward to comply.”
The White House did not respond to request for comment, nor did the Department of Commerce, which ultimately oversees the report.
The climate assessments have been delayed in the past.
In 2017 the Trump administration disbanded an Obama-era committee designed to help aid in the creation of the 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment.
The Center sued when the administration initially refused to release documents after a Freedom of Information Act request about the decision. Once the documents came out the next year, records showed the administration found fault with the advisory committee for only containing one member from industry.
The report was released the day after Thanksgiving, timing the Center called “an apparent effort to downplay its grave assessment of accelerating climate change and its perils.”
The Second National Climate Assessment was also delayed under the George W. Bush administration, which missed deadlines in 2004 and 2006. In 2007 a federal judge found the administration violated the Global Change Research Act of 1990 by failing to produce the report.