Report: Trump admin scrubbed mentions of climate change from websites
Posted January 9, 2018 6:34 p.m. EST
WASHINGTON (CNN) — The Trump administration has eliminated or replaced references to climate change, renewable energy and similar topics on websites across the federal government, according to a new study released Wednesday by a coalition of academic and nonprofit groups.
It's the latest evidence of the breadth of the administration's efforts to pivot from an environmental to an economic focus.
The report documents website changes at the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department and the Energy Department, and includes other agencies not immediately associated with environmental issues, such as the State Department and the Department of Transportation.
The administration has defended the changes as aligning the executive branch's online presence with Trump administration policy. For example, a list of "National Priorities" for the Bureau of Land Management no longer includes "clean and renewable energy" or "national conservation lands." Instead, it includes phrases like "making America safe through energy independence" and "getting America back to work."
The report was produced by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, a coalition of academics and nonprofits that support the open sharing of government data and monitor thousands of federal webpages to track changes.
"Removing information regarding climate change from federal websites does not affect the reality of climate change, but may serve to obfuscate the subject and inject doubt regarding the scientific consensus that climate change is happening and that it is caused by human activity," the report reads.
Many changes cited in the report, such as the EPA removing its climate change website, were previously discovered and reported by EDGI.
For instance, changes last year swapped words like "adaptation" with resilience and renamed the "Sustainable Transport and Climate Change Team" to "The Sustainable Transportation and Resilience Team." The EPA, meanwhile, removed mentions of climate change from its water utilities programs. The "Climate Ready Water Utilities" program was renamed "Creating Resilient Water Utilities."
But in the new report EDGI also noted changes to the Bureau of Land Management's website.
At some point over the summer, BLM removed a page with information about the impacts of climate change. Officials also replaced text about how the bureau manages federal lands and took down links to climate change information, the report said.
EDGI is concerned about removing information from public view because it could allow the administration "to more easily repeal certain regulations they don't like without as much pushback from the public," EDGI member Andrew Bergman recently told CNN.