The Trump administration is pushing to scrub information about the scientific consensus on climate change from the Environmental Protection Agency's website, agency sources say.
Employees received notice on Tuesday that the new administration instructed the EPA's communications team to delete the website's page on climate change, according to a report from Reuters.
"If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear," an unnamed EPA employee told Reuters, adding some agency staff were "scrambling" to save the soon-to-be-deleted information.
Trump's team didn't want you to know about it, either. Earlier this week, the EPA received an order to freeze its current grant programs, along with a gag order on external communications.
In an email circulated Monday and obtained by the Huffington Post, staffers were instructed that "no press releases will be going out to external audiences." The directive also silenced the agency's social media accounts and advised they may become "more centrally controlled."
“I will say it’s pretty unusual for us to get these kinds of anonymous contacts from people at the agency, which makes me think it’s unusual,” a congressional source familiar with the situation told the Huffington Post.
The Trump administration, beyond being led by a climate denier who called global warming a hoax invented by the Chinese government, has also selected Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma attorney general, climate change denier, and enemy of former President Obama's climate policy, to head up the EPA. He is just one of a list of climate deniers Trump is empowering to direct policy over the next four years.
The acceleration of the Trump team's efforts to roll back Obama's legacy on climate and, uh, literally destroy the earth has faced pushback from surprising sources.
In defiance of Trump's efforts to silence the National Parks Service on Twitter–after the organization retweeted a photo comparing the crowd size of Trump's and President Obama's inaugurations–the Twitter account of South Dakota's Badlands National Park, in a series of now-deleted tweets, laid out some basic information about climate science.
A representative for the park told BuzzFeed News the tweets were posted by a "former employee" who was not authorized to tweet from the account. Which means that sharing factual information about the consequences of climate change—the kind of thing you should be able to find in a 8th grade science textbook–is now considered a rogue action.
Between the leaks from the EPA and the tweets out of Badlands, it's clear that as the Trump administration tries to stifle the free flow of scientific fact, dissent from federal employees—leaking, leaking, and more leaking—may be more necessary than ever to keep the public informed.
UPDATE: Doug Ericksen, a spokesman for the EPA, denied to The Hill that the Trump administration was seeking to gag the agency's climate change message. But Ericksen—a former Washington state legislator whose ties to the oil industry and skepticism about climate change have been well-documented—added that the agency is looking at all content on the website to see if any changes should be made.
“We’re looking at scrubbing it up a bit, putting a little freshener on it, and getting it back up to the public,” he said.