The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has updated its website to reflect its “Back-to-Basics” agenda under new director Scott Pruitt – in the process removing several sections on the website that made climate science data available to the public.
Among the pages removed were datasheets on greenhouse gas emissions, detailed information about the Clean Power Plan, and data on how environmental issues affected different demographic groups, according to archived images of the old site posted by several news organizations Saturday.
On Saturday evening, a web search for “Clean Power Plan” still provided a link to the now-missing section of the EPA website, but clicking it redirected to a different page about energy independence, Earth.com discovered.
A search for the EPA’s climate science data, previously collected on a climate change mini-site, led to a placeholder page reading, “Thank you for your interest in this topic. We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President [Donald] Trump and Administrator Pruitt.”
A link to a snapshot of the old site was provided. The agency has told multiple news organizations that it will archive the old site.
“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,” J.P. Freire, EPA associate administrator for public affairs, said in a statement posted to the website. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”
Scientists and environmental advocates in the U.S. have expressed concern about the views of both the president and Pruitt in the past.
While Pruitt has made statements that acknowledge the rise of average global surface temperatures in recent decades, he has questioned whether human activity has an impact on that trend.
In an interview with CNBC on March 9, he said, “I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.”
The president, meanwhile, has expressed skepticism that climate change is occurring at all.
However, climate science data has shown evidence of a decades-long warming trend, and a strong consensus of climate scientists believe that the trend is affected by human activity and will continue. While there are detractors, science historian Dr. Naomi Oreskes points out, the majority work in fields unrelated or only loosely related to climate science.
By Kyla Cathey, Earth.com Staff Writer