For Immediate Release
Trump Administration Continues Attack on Science, Scrubs Data on Climate Change From Interior Department Websites
Conservationists, Scientist Fight Back With Freedom of Information Act
WASHINGTON - As the Trump administration continues to censor science, the Center for Biological Diversity, Center for Media and Democracy and scientist Dr. Stuart Pimm today launched a novel legal strategy to force the Department of the Interior to restore climate change information that was deleted from the agency’s website.
“Scrubbing information about climate change will not make it any less dangerous,” said Amy Atwood, a senior attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’re going to fight the Trump administration’s efforts to bury the science showing the dangerous impacts of climate change at every turn.”
Under a seldom-utilized provision of the Freedom of Information Act added in 2016, when federal agencies receive requests for the same records three or more times, they must make the records freely available to the public on their websites. The groups and Dr. Pimm today each filed information requests for the information from the deleted webpages in order to force the Interior department to restore them.
“The public has a right to know important scientific information, particularly when it threatens to unravel the web of life we all depend on,” said Stuart Pimm, Doris Duke professor of conservation ecology at Duke University. “I continue to be deeply troubled by the Trump administration’s efforts to bury the irrefutable science of climate change.”
As has been widely reported, Interior’s website formerly included detailed information about how human activities are the primary cause of climate action, the consequences of climate change, the federal government’s strategies to respond to climate change and the consequences of inaction. The website now includes just one paragraph about climate change.
“The Trump administration is attempting a giant scam,” said Nick Surgey, director of research at the Center for Media and Democracy. “Trump officials routinely mislead by saying the science around climate change isn’t settled, all while implementing policies to purge the web of the actual science.”
The Center has now found that in addition to the Interior Department’s own website, the websites of multiple agencies within the Interior Department — including the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Climate Science Centers, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Geological Survey — have also deeply cut information about climate change from their webpages. The BLM site on climate change, for example, is now a dead link.
The Centers and Dr. Pimm have now submitted Freedom of Information Act requests for all the data scrubbed from these websites, as well as from the Environmental Protection Agency, which has also removed climate change information from its website.
These requests add to others filed in March that sought to ensure thousands of data sets on oil and gas projections, energy use, climate data, human population and the status of scores of endangered and threatened species and other wildlife remained publically available on agency websites. By invoking the little-used provision of the Freedom of Information Act, the Centers and Dr. Pimm are ensuring that the lost data are made electronically available to the public once again.
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.