New White House website scrubbed of most climate change references

New White House website scrubbed of most climate change references

Out with the old White House website and in with the new. 

The transition to the Trump administration’s White House website is proving especially jarring for climate change advocates. 

On Friday, the Obama administration’s White House website, which included many pages on climate change and plans to combat it, was switched over to a website featuring President Donald Trump’s agenda. All of the climate-related pages are missing from the new website. 

Instead, highlighted at the top of the issue list is the “America First Energy Plan,” which talks about the need to roll back former president Barack Obama’s far-reaching climate regulations, known as the Climate Action Plan.

As of noon, a search for “climate change” at turns up many links, but they’ve all been scrubbed. #GOPWarOnScience

— Robert McNees (@mcnees) January 20, 2017

The website states much of what Trump had campaigned on. Namely, a renewed emphasis on heavily polluting fossil fuels and a concerted effort to eliminate many of the Obama administration’s climate achievements.

“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry,” the website states. 

“President Trump is committed to eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule. Lifting these restrictions will greatly help American workers, increasing wages by more than $30 billion over the next 7 years.”

“Sound energy policy begins with the recognition that we have vast untapped domestic energy reserves right here in America,” the site states. 

The plan includes coal, natural gas and oil, but does not mention renewable energy, something that did not go unnoticed by environmentalists. 

“With no reference to renewable energy, this dirty energy plan ignores the clean energy economy that is so critical to creating jobs and fighting climate change. This is a disgraceful way for Trump to begin his presidency,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, in a statement.  

Quick work—all reference to climate change has been scrubbed from WH website. Problem solved just like that!!!!!

— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) January 20, 2017

“It’s truly disturbing that one of the first actions by the Trump administration is to remove nearly all references to climate change from the White House website,” said Sam Adams, the World Resources Institute, an environmental think tank. 

“The website’s lone climate reference is to eliminate the Climate Action Plan, which is a wholesale attack that flies in the face of common sense and would do harm to all Americans,” he said in a statement.

While worrisome to many, deleting the climate sections of the White House website is not the same as a systematic campaign to get rid of climate data from across federal websites. As far-fetched as it may sound, the latter is exactly what many climate activists and scientists have been fearing, due to the new administration’s hostility to mainstream climate science findings and policies to address the issue. 

Rather, Friday’s actions reflect the online turnover from one president to another. 

Under the Obama administration, the U.S. committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 28 percent below 2005 levels by the year 2020, largely through a combination of EPA regulations of power plant emissions, increased use of renewables like solar and wind power and the retirement of older, dirtier coal-burning power plants. 

(If you’re curious how many climate-related pages Obama had on his White House site, you can peruse the archived version here.)

Other climate-related offices within the White House were entirely missing from the Trump White House website as of 3:50 p.m. ET. These include the landing pages for the Council on Environmental Quality and  Office of Science and Technology Policy.

While the White House has scrubbed most references to climate change from its new website, federal agencies involved in climate change research, such as NASA, still have extensive websites devoted to climate change despite the changeover in the administration. 

At the same time as the new White House website was causing an uproar on social media and in the environmental community, news reports circulated Friday that President Trump may take action on climate change as soon as this weekend. 

Bloomberg News reported Friday that Trump’s advisors are pushing him to nullify Obama’s guidelines that the federal government include climate change when considering infrastructure projects. Trump may also sign an executive order suspending a vital metric known as the social cost of carbon, which helps federal officials weigh the climate risks of any project, such as a new oil pipeline. 

Finally, according to Bloomberg, Trump may move to make it easier to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Obama had rejected, by taking review authority away from the State Department. 

The report states these executive orders could come as early as this weekend.

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