EPA scrubs climate change website of 'climate change'

Emissions rise from the smokestacks of a coal-fired power plant on Oct 9, 2017, in Castle Dale, Utah.
Emissions rise from the smokestacks of a coal-fired power plant on Oct 9, 2017, in Castle Dale, Utah. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (NYTIMES) - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has removed dozens of online resources dedicated to helping local governments address climate change, part of an apparent effort by the agency to play down the threat of global warming.

A new analysis made public on Friday found that an EPA website has been scrubbed of scores of links to materials to help local officials prepare for a world of rising temperatures and more severe storms.

The site, previously the EPA's "Climate and Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments" has been renamed "Energy Resources for State, Local, and Tribal Governments." About 15 mentions of the words "climate change" have been removed from the main page alone, the study found.

Among the now-missing pages are those detailing the risks of climate change and the different approaches states are taking to curb emissions. Also edited out were examples of statewide plans to adapt to weather extremes.

An EPA spokesman said the original pages have been archived and remain available by searching through the agency's web archive, a link to which is at the top of its energy resources page.

The analysis, from the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, which monitors changes to federal environmental agency websites, described the amount of removed data as "substantial." The energy resources website is the first site to which the EPA has returned a large portion of material since pages dealing with climate science were removed from public view on April 28.

In the interim, a notice said "this page is being updated" and added that the site would be changed to reflect the agency's priorities under the Trump administration. When material was restored with changes in late July, the report said, the site had been cut from 380 pages to about 175.

"I think it's very alarming," said Adam Parris, who leads the Science and Resilience Institute at Jamaica Bay in New York. "These are not the kind of resources that are just basic climate science. These are the kind of resources it has taken years to develop across the federal family."

The report comes on the heels of a four-year blueprint of priorities the EPA issued that does not include climate change. The 38-page draft strategic plan, issued for public comment this month, does not use the phrase.