S.C. Natural Resources climate change report not released

The simplest reason why a state climate-change report has not been released after more than a year is that it isn’t done yet.

The suspicion-stirring question is why?

The S.C. Department of Natural Resources report deals with the potential impacts of climate warming on the state’s resources, such as sea rise. An array of staff worked on it; former director John Frampton wrote the forward. The work was current through 2011.

Frampton, the veteran director, unceremoniously was dumped in late 2011 after the replacement of some board members by newly elected Gov. Nikki Haley, who has pushed for pared-down, “business-friendly” agencies.

In July 2012, a draft of the report was shown to board members for information only, according to board Chairman John Evans and board member Caroline Rhodes.

It didn’t fly.

Evans characterized the report as a national priority established by the federal government to document the impacts of climate change.

“It just wasn’t our priority at this time,” he said.

Rhodes characterized the report as highly technical, with a level of science beyond the ken of board members as lay people.

“It seemed like it was trying to say a lot without us having the knowledge to stand behind it. And it’s a controversial subject; there’s a lot of pros and cons on it,” she said.

Frampton doesn’t want to discuss actions by the current board or agency; he’s retired now and not privy, he said. But he said he did expect the draft report to go out for public review.

“I would have been proud to have had it go out before I left. We had a really great staff working on it, from all areas of the agency. They were very qualified,” he said.

Phil Dustan, College of Charleston marine biologist, who tracks climate warming, has been vocal about a severe warming trend shown “by everything we measure” and resistance to accepting it in the state. He’s not surprised that the report would draw a mixed reaction, he said.

“A lot of people don’t want to hear about climate warming; they don’t believe it, and they think it’s all political,” he said. “Many of the agencies that work in this area are driven by political rather than scientific mandates.”

Evans said the report will be released when it’s finished; but the agency has other, more pressing needs to deal with.

“There was no political motivation” behind the board’s lack of action, he said. The “for information only” report draft required no action.

Frampton said people need to see it.

“We’re obviously going into a warming period, no question the ice caps are melting,” he said. “The main thing is that people need to know what can happen, and the adaptions that can be made.”

Reach Bo Petersen at 937-5744, @bopete on Twitter or Bo Petersen Reporting on Facebook.

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