Release of Climate Change Study Blocked by Amtrak

On December 20, 2018, Bloomberg News reported that the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (doing business as Amtrak) had blocked release of a study assessing the impacts of climate change on part of its track system. The study, titled “Amtrak NEC Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment,” details likely impacts to a 10-mile stretch of track on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Route connecting Boston to Washington D.C. The study finds that the track will face “continual inundation” from rising seas and flooding associated with climate change. Despite this, following completion of the study, Amtrak’s executive vice president and chief commercial officer Stephen Gardner said: “We don’t see any fundamental risks to the integrity of the corridor.”

Amtrak reportedly completed the study in April 2017, but it was not made public until November 2018, when a partially redacted copy was obtained by Bloomberg through a Freedom of Information Act request. Redacted sections include an analysis of the costs and benefits of protecting the relevant section of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor Route from the impacts of climate change. Amtrak said it would not release that information because it “could possibly cause public confusion.”