Is the EPA’s Online Climate Change Section Gone for Good?

Material saying humans are warming the planet was taken down last year for an ‘update'

More than a year after the US Environmental Protection Agency took down information on climate change from its website for an “update,” it now seems uncertain whether it will ever reappear.

photo of coral reef
The EPA's online climate change section now simply states: “We want to help you find what you are looking for.” Photo by US Environmental Protection Agency.

In April last year, the EPA replaced its online climate change section with a holding page that said the content was being updated to “reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump.”

Information previously found at made it clear that human activity was warming the planet, resulting in harm to Americans’ health as well as crucial ecosystems on which humans depend.

The “update” page has now given way to a page that simply states: “We want to help you find what you are looking for.” Below, there are links to search other areas of the EPA website, as well as to an archived “snapshot” of the site from the day before Trump became president in January 2017. The switch was observed by the Environmental Data & Governance Initiative, which tracks changes in government websites.

“It’s an embarrassment. It is a ghost page,” said Judith Enck, who was EPA regional administrator during Barack Obama’s presidency. “It’s a bit like Amazon not allowing the public to order books via its website — it’s that fundamental. There’s no other issue at the EPA more important than climate change; it affects air, water, health, and whether large parts of the world will survive.”

Scott Pruitt, a climate change skeptic who was Trump’s pick as EPA administrator until he resigned in July amid a long-running ethics scandal, repeatedly questioned basic scientific understanding of climate change while he headed the agency, such as whether carbon dioxide is a primary driver of planetary warming.

The EPA under the Trump administration has attempted to roll back all key measures designed to address climate change, such as limits on pollution from coal plants, rules to prevent methane emissions from oil and gas drilling, and tighter fuel efficiency standards for cars. Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who is now acting EPA administrator, has said “federal regulations are not necessary to drive greenhouse gas reductions.”

A senior EPA official, who asked not to be named, said: “Wheeler has been somewhat meticulously going through the mess Pruitt left behind and I think is finally getting to the place of making some decisions on stuff.” The official added: “I’ve been surprised that we are still even talking about climate change and that there are still people nominally assigned to that beat in the air office.”

Enck said that EPA career staff are “frustrated” and “ashamed” about the new stance on climate change and urged her former colleagues to speak out.

The administration also began taking the ax to climate change language across other government websites in the spring of 2017.

“The EPA website is used by decision and policy makers, not just for high school student assignments,” she said. “The lack of timely, accurate information is part of a much deeper problem that the agency is on the sidelines of the most urgent environment issue of our time.”

The EPA was contacted for comment.

Get the Journal in your inbox.
Sign up for our monthly newsletter.

The Latest

Humans Explain Things to Me

Nature once tumbled through our language. There are practical ways we can bring it back.

William Powers

Finding Second Lives for Electric Car Batteries

The production of electric and hybrid vehicles generates tons of battery waste, but some companies are finding creative ways to reduce it.

Bill Siuru

With Warming Temperatures, Alaska Pollock Are Shifting Northward

In the Bering Sea, fish are finding refuge far from their traditional range. What does this mean for ecosystems and commercial fisheries?

Theresa Soley

Rock Climbing Can Pose Threat to Cliff-Dwelling Birds, but May also Offer Opportunity

Despite disturbing high-altitude habitat, climbers could be a valuable resource for bird conservation projects.

Brianna Grant

Race, Wealth, and Public Spaces: US Beaches are a New Flashpoint of the Lockdown

Beaches are a polarizing issue amid the pandemic. Experts say that’s because a ‘frenzy of privatization’ led to smaller, more crowded public spaces.

Ankita Rao The Guardian

Returning to ‘Normal’ Would Be Suicide

We cannot go back to a world in which corporate profits take priority over planetary survival.

Aaron G. Lehmer-Chang