The Trump administration's penchant for censoring science has been underscored by a new development that has one advocacy group asking if the Environmental Protection Agency's climate change website is gone for good.
Back in April 2017, the EPA announced it was "undergoing changes that reflect the agency's new direction under President Donald Trump and [then] Administrator Scott Pruitt," and scrubbed multiple climate crisis-related pages, including epa.gov/climatechange, with readers being redirected to a page that said, "This page is being updated." Here's how the page appeared, as the Internet Archive shows:
Watchdog network Environmental Data & Governance Initiative (EDGI) pointed out this week that there's no longer a mention of an "update." A reader searching for epa.gov/climatechange now is redirected to a page that says, "We want to help you find what you are looking for."
The previous "being updated" page also left a link to a snapshot of the EPA's climate page from the last day of the Obama administration, but it now sends readers off to a snapshot of the EPA's home page from that date, not the agency's climate page.
"The cumulative effect of removing these links from the splash page is the substantial reduction of access to EPA's historical public information about climate change," EDGI states.
According to Judith Enck, EPA regional administrator under the Obama administration, "It's an embarrassment."
"It's a bit like Amazon not allowing the public to order books via its website—it's that fundamental," she told the Guardian. "There's no other issue at the EPA more important than climate change; it affects air, water, health, and whether large parts of the world will survive."
As for the EPA's new landing page saying, "We want to help you find what you are looking for," Environmental Working Group (EWG) president Ken Cook argued, "Apparently they don't want to help very much."
"But it's not hard to figure out why," Cook continued. "Andrew Wheeler, acting chief of the agency, was a longtime lobbyist for the fossil fuel industry before he joined President Trump's anti-science, anti-public-health administration. Why would he want an EPA website packed with irrefutable data detailing how that industry is a leading driver behind dirty air, increases in childhood asthma and premature death, wildfires and hurricanes from hell, rising sea levels, drought and famine?”
The website change was also noted by the March for Science. The movement tweeted that content shifted from "Accurate, essential information" to "being updated" to "page not found." It added that senators "elected this year will decide the new head of the EPA."
The EPA exists to protect our health and environment. This is the https://t.co/57VAL5o8l1 site on 1/20/17, 5/2/17, and today. Accurate, essential information —> being updated —> page not found. Senators elected this year will decide the new head of the EPA. #voteforscience pic.twitter.com/wtfaDSMJ7z— March for Science (@ScienceMarchDC) October 25, 2018