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The EPA Just Scrubbed The Climate Change Section Of Its Website To Reflect Trump's Views

The Trump administration has made numerous alterations to government websites to deemphasize climate change while placing a new focus on fossil fuels.

Posted on April 29, 2017, at 1:39 a.m. ET

President Trump wears a coal miners hard hat during a rally in West Virginia on May 5, 2016.
Steve Helber / AP

President Trump wears a coal miners hard hat during a rally in West Virginia on May 5, 2016.

The Environmental Protection Agency has removed the climate change section from its website as part of the agency's "new direction under President Donald Trump."

The removal came Friday as the EPA announced changes and "updates" that are "intended to ensure that the public can use the website to understand the agency's current efforts." The announcement states that "content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed."

Would-be visitors to the EPA's climate page — which previously included information on why and how the climate is changing — are now redirected to a page that mentions the updates but has no information about climate change. In its place, the page now has a link to a "snapshot" of the site in January, when the climate information was still available.

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In a statement Friday, EPA spokesman JP Freire explained the changes by saying "we want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”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 takedown of the EPA's climate change page is the latest in a series of website alterations by the Trump administration, which has placed a new focus on oil drilling and coal mining.

Perhaps most notably, the Bureau of Land Management — which is part of the Department of the Interior overseen by Trump appointee Ryan Zinke — changed the feature image on its website from a family hiking in the wilderness to a massive coal seam.

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The change immediately raised questions about the administration's intentions and prompted a response from the agency that it planned to rotate through different images showing the various offerings of the country's public lands. As of Friday, the site displayed an image of a sheep rancher.

But that wasn't the only change.

Starting last month, the BLM began uploading photos of oil drills, coal mining operations, and other heavy machinery to its Flickr page.

An image recently uploaded to the BLM's Flicker page shows a oil drill on public land.
BLM

An image recently uploaded to the BLM's Flicker page shows a oil drill on public land.

In the past, the page had been mostly used to share picturesque scenes from national parks, a Valentine-themed series of wild animals, and other comparatively innocuous snaps of public land.

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Information about climate change has also apparently been removed from the website of the State Department, while details about renewable energy were modified on the Department of Energy's website.

Before Friday's changes, the EPA website had already been the subject of other alterations by the Trump administration. In January, the White House reportedly instructed the agency to remove its climate change page. While that didn't happen immediately, in February some climate content on the site had been removed, according to a report by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, which has been tracking the changes and archiving the deleted content.

In response to the latest changes to the site, David Doniger, director of the Natural Resources Defense Council's climate and clean air program, tweeted that a "cleansing has begun."

Cleansing has begun. EPA website scrubbed of pages on "so-called" Clean Power Plan. Now only alternative facts. https://t.co/Zi3EphwU7v

Several unnamed EPA employees also spoke to the Washington Post, saying they had not been consulted about changes to the agency's website and that they weren't pleased.

“People are obviously unhappy,” one employee told the Post. “It is, in my opinion, the best climate education website out there.”


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