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Trump Didn't Even Have to Ask CDC to Cancel Climate Summit

"Some might argue they should have said, 'We're going to do this and make them tell us no.' But that was the decision they made."

An iceberg melting in Kulusuk, Greenland. (Photo: John McConnico/AP)

An iceberg melting in Kulusuk, Greenland. (Photo: John McConnico/AP)

In another signal of the anti-science chill that has descended upon federal government, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has quietly cancelled a long-planned climate summit in anticipation of its unpopularity within the Donald Trump administration.

The February summit—intended to provide a forum for public health officials to discuss the risks that climate change poses to human health—was reportedly called off before Friday's inauguration, according to emails obtained by E&E News, which broke the story on Monday before the CDC confirmed the cancellation to news outlets.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to hold the Summit in February 2017," said the emails, which were sent to scheduled speakers beginning on Dec. 22. "We are currently exploring options so that the Summit may take place later in the year."

Though no official explanation was provided, Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), who was scheduled to be keynote speaker at the CDC summit, told the Washington Post that "agency officials decided to preemptively call off the event, rather than risk running afoul of an incoming president who has repeatedly called climate change a 'hoax' and has nominated climate change skeptics to his Cabinet," as the newspaper put it.

"They ran it up the flagpole and realized that it was so close to the inauguration, the chances of it being canceled were pretty real with the administration that was coming in," Benjamin said. "Some might argue they should have said, 'We're going to do this and make them tell us no.' But that was the decision they made. We should think of this as a strategic retreat."

Since Trump won the election and in the mere days since his inauguration, it has been made clear that the study and mitigation of climate change is no longer a priority for the federal government. All mention of the crisis has been scrubbed from the White House website, replaced with an "America First Energy Plan" that calls for doubling down on domestic fossil fuel extraction.

Such moves were not a surprise to many, given Trump's stated beliefs on global warming and the climate-change deniers chosen to lead his cabinet, including Environmental Protection Agency nominee Scott Pruitt and newly-confirmed Secretary of State and former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson.

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