On 24 January 2017 the Reuters news agency, citing two anonymous agency staffers, reported that President Trump had ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to remove the climate change pages from their website:

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has instructed the Environmental Protection Agency to remove the climate change page from its website, two agency employees told Reuters …

The employees were notified by EPA officials that the administration had instructed EPA’s communications team to remove the website’s climate change page, which contains links to scientific global warming research, as well as detailed data on emissions. The page could go down as early as [tomorrow], the sources said.

However, the following day Environment and Energy News reported that the Trump administration had, evidently, walked back on this directive, telling the EPA’s employees to “stand down” on removing information from the web site:

“We’ve been told to stand down,” an EPA employee told E&E News today. That new directive comes after staff were told yesterday to remove the agency’s climate change page from its website, worrying climate change activists and sending data specialists scrambling to download files.

The backlash that erupted after reports surfaced that the climate page would be eliminated may have prompted administration officials to change course. News of the plans was first reported last night by Reuters. EPA’s press office did not respond to requests for comment today.

Responding to these conflicting reports, Doug Ericksen, a spokesperson for the “beachhead team” that is facilitating the agency’s transition into the new administration, told The Hill that there were no plans to remove the site:

“We’re looking at scrubbing it up a bit, putting a little freshener on it, and getting it back up to the public,” said Ericksen, who is currently a Republican state lawmaker in Washington.

As of mid-day 25 January 2017, the EPA web site still featured press releases related to NASA and NOAA studies demonstrating that 2016 was the warmest year on record. On the “Climate Change: Basic Information” web page, humans’ role in affecting climate change is explicitly acknowledged:

Humans are largely responsible for recent climate change

Over the past century, human activities have released large amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. The majority of greenhouse gases come from burning fossil fuels to produce energy, although deforestation, industrial processes, and some agricultural practices also emit gases into the atmosphere.

Greenhouse gases act like a blanket around Earth, trapping energy in the atmosphere and causing it to warm. This phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect and is natural and necessary to support life on Earth. However, the buildup of greenhouse gases can change Earth’s climate and result in dangerous effects to human health and welfare and to ecosystems.

The choices we make today will affect the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere in the near future and for years to come.

We have reached out to the Trump administration for clarification on what a “scrubbed up”, “freshened” version of the EPA site might look like.

Sources:

Volcovici, Valerie.   “Trump Administration Tells EPA to Cut Climate Page from Website: Sources.”
    Reuters.   25 January 2017  

Bravender, Robin and Hannah Hess.   “Staff Told to ‘Stand Down’ on Axing Climate Page.”
    E&E News.   25 January 2017  

Cama, Timothy.   “EPA Spokesman: No Plan to Take Down Climate Webpages.”
    The Hill.   25 January 2017