Raleigh, N.C. — Links and documents about climate change have recently disappeared from the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources website.
As recently as Jan. 21, information about climate change was available on the front page of the Division of Air Quality's website. Sometime in the last two months, the page was edited to remove the link.
The link used to connect users to a page full of information and resources about greenhouse gases and climate change. That page no longer exists, either.
Two major reports on climate change are also missing from the site: a 100-page report on the possible economic impacts of greenhouse gas mitigation and the state's 118-page Climate Action Plan, a multi-year project involving dozens of experts and policymakers. Both were commissioned by the state legislature, then controlled by Democrats, and completed in 2008.
Division of Air Quality spokesman Tom Mather told WRAL News the decision to remove the links and documents was made by division Director Sheila Holman. He said they were removed because the programs and commissions are no longer active.
"We made these changes as part of our ongoing efforts to update, refresh and redesign our website," Mather said. "Currently, states do not have a lot of regulatory authority dealing with climate change. We do have responsibilities in several areas, however, and we still include that information on our website."
Mather said some of the information that was removed is available on other areas of the site, although a search by WRAL News found many broken links. He said the public can still access the reports by requesting them from the agency.
He declined to say whether the change was made to reflect the current administration's philosophy.
DENR Secretary John Skvarla has made no secret of his skepticism on the issue. In an interview with WRAL.com on Jan. 4, 2013, Skvarla was asked whether he believes climate change "is a fact."
"I think climate change is a science, and science is constantly in need of scrutiny," he responded. "I don't think climate change is something you just put the needle on the record and say it's fixed. We must engage the very best minds with diverse opinions."
Gov. Pat McCrory voiced the same skepticism on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" on Feb. 16, when he was asked by host Bob Schieffer whether he still believes, as he said in 2008, that global warming is "in God's hands."
"I feel that there's always been climate change. The debate is, really, how much of it is man-made and how much will it cost to have any impact on climate change. My main argument is, let's clean up the environment, and as mayor and now as governor, I'm spending my time cleaning our air, cleaning our water, cleaning the ground."
Dustin Chicurel Bayard with the Sierra Club says the so-called "debate" isn't one, at least in terms of the scientific community.
"Climate change is accepted. Climate change is real. It's a fact. It is man-made," Chicurel-Bayard said. "Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree that climate change is happening."
He said policymakers, planners, engineers and the public should have access to information that can help them plan long-term projects, like roads, bridges and other infrastructure.
"This shouldn't be about opinion. This should be about science and facts and information, and that should be readily available, especially when North Carolina taxpayers have already spent money on studies," he added. "The public deserves better."