The Trump administration-led Environmental Protection Agency has removed almost all references to climate change from its website, replacing them with a placeholder stating that the website was being updated to “reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and [new EPA] Administrator [Scott] Pruitt.” The Washington Post spoke to an agency insider who anonymously confirmed that Pruitt — who, along with President Trump, denies the consensus opinion of the scientific community that the recent dramatic changes in the Earth’s climate are mostly caused by humans — had approved the changes after his aides found information on the site which contradicted the stated rationale of actions he has taken since taking over the EPA. The Post also reports that some employees at the agency are understandably upset over the scrubbing.
Up until Friday, the agency had left the site as it was during the Obama administration, though the climate-change page of the White House’s official website was removed as soon as Trump took office.
Since at least 1997, the EPA’s climate-change website had been a place to learn about climate science, the causes of climate change (including how it is “extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause” of recent climate changes), and how the phenomenon is affecting the U.S. and the world. The site also explained what the agency was doing to counteract the problem, as well as how Americans could reduce their own impact.
“Climate change” no longer appears in the site’s “environmental topics” drop-down navigation menu, and the pages containing detailed climate and other scientific data were also taken down. Also gone is information regarding the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which the Trump administration is already working to dismantle, along with other EPA climate rules.
The “students’ guide to global climate change,” which also contains information inconsistent with Pruitt and Trump’s beliefs on the subject, does remain on the website, but that may simply be an oversight.
It’s not clear what the rewritten climate-change section will claim, if and when it is ever updated under Pruitt, but here’s what an agency spokesman said in a statement released in Friday night’s news dump:
As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency. We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.
The changes also came the night before protesters were due to amass in Washington, D.C., and other U.S. cities to participate in the annual People’s Climate March, an event devoted to calling attention to the threat of climate change and how political and business leaders should be doing more to combat it.
Under the last Republican administration of President George W. Bush, updates to the EPA website were prevented unless reviewed by the White House, but the site was left up and the existing scientific information on it was left alone. Both policy and scientific information seems to be in the Trump administration’s crosshairs, however.
A link to an archived version of the EPA’s website — from the last day of the Obama administration — remains available on the agency’s climate-change page.