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WHAT SCIENCE?

We’re “removing outdated language”: Trump’s EPA has taken down its climate change page

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
EPA chief Scott Pruitt has the unenviable task of helping revive the coal industry.
  • Max de Haldevang
By Max de Haldevang

Geopolitics reporter

This article is more than 2 years old.

The man US president Donald Trump has charged with guarding the planet has never been a fan of environmental protections. As Oklahoma’s attorney general, Scott Pruitt filed more than a dozen lawsuits against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that he now runs.

Pruitt’s new job has not changed his views on the environment. In a March interview he more or less denied man-made climate change, saying, “I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.” Trump himself has previously called climate change a “hoax” and suggested it is a conspiracy created by the Chinese.

Now Pruitt seems to be rewriting his agency’s websites to fit the administration’s views. Visit www.epa.gov/climatechange and you’ll be told, “We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt.” The page used to have a cornucopia of detailed explainers about climate science, its impact, and how to fight it.

The agency’s timing is rather inauspicious, with tens of thousands poised to take to the streets of Washington (and across the world) today for the “People’s Climate March.”

Screenshot: www.epa.gov/climatechange

In an online statement, J.P. Freire, the EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs, explained that the “website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.” As such, they are “removing outdated language,” the statement says. It’s not clear what the “outdated language” is, but up until yesterday the site did contain at least one paragraph that directly contradicts Pruitt’s views:

Recent climate changes, however, cannot be explained by natural causes alone. Research indicates that natural causes do not explain most observed warming, especially warming since the mid-20thcentury. Rather, it is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of that warming.

If this passage is one of the things being culled, Freire’s statement includes a strange use of the word “outdated:” NASA notes that 97% of actively publishing scientists agree that global warming is extremely likely to be due to human activity. In this context, it’s Pruitt and Trump’s views that appear out of date, harking back to early 1997—the last time the EPA didn’t have a functioning climate change page.

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