WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency 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 E.P.A. 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 E.P.A.’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An E.P.A. spokesman said the original pages have been archived and remain available by searching through the agency’s web archive, a link to which is at the top of its energy resources page.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 E.P.A. 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 to 175 pages from about 380.
“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 E.P.A. issued that does not include climate change. The 38-page draft strategic plan, issued for public comment this month, does not use the phrase.
Under the Obama administration’s four-year strategic plan issued in 2014, “Addressing Climate Change and Improving Air Quality” was the E.P.A.’s first of five goals. Climate change was cited 43 times.
Gina McCarthy, administrator of the E.P.A. under Mr. Obama, said in a statement that one of the agency’s most important jobs was to provide scientific and technical expertise so local officials could write appropriate policies. She said the now-discarded data was collected and shared over a number of years to help states, cities and towns build resilience to fiercer storms, floods, droughts and wildfires.
“There is no more significant threat than climate change and it isn’t just happening to people in far-off countries — it’s happening to us,” Ms. McCarthy said. “It is beyond comprehension that E.P.A. would ever purposely limit and remove access to information that communities need to save lives and property. Clearly, this was not a technical glitch, it was a planned shutdown.”
Toly Rinberg of the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative said that there was no evidence the E.P.A. had destroyed any records. The original pages are available from several sources, including the Internet Archive, which maintains a mirror of the E.P.A. website as it appeared near the end of the Obama administration.
A number of resources, like emissions inventories, remain intact on the E.P.A. site.
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