The Trump administration is forcing the Environmental Protection Agency to delete all of its pages on climate change.
The move comes as part of a much broader crackdown on postings by all agencies who track the effects of global warming on the environment. All of those organisations – as well as others, like the National Parks Service – have been banned from talking to the public by the US government.
Now scientists are scrambling to save some of the most important parts of the EPA's website before they are deleted off the internet entirely.
"If the website goes dark, years of work we have done on climate change will disappear," one official told Reuters soon after the order to shut down the website was sent.
The employees were notified by EPA officials on Tuesday 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 pages could go down as early as Wednesday, the sources said.
The Trump administration appears to be engaged in a much broader effort to remove information on global warming from the internet. It took down all reference to the phenomenon on the White House page, replacing it with an energy policy that committed to scrap Barack Obama's landmark climate plan and limit the remit of the EPA.
It has led to worries that Mr Trump, who doesn't believe that climate change exists, will look to put a stop to scientific work that shows the effect of human activity on global warming. Mr Trump has claimed that global warming isn't real and was made up as a Chinese hoax to keep American companies uncompetitive.
Myron Ebell, who helped guide the EPA's transition after Trump was elected in November until he was sworn in last week, told Reuters that the move was not surprising.
"My guess is the web pages will be taken down, but the links and information will be available," he said. It's not clear whether that means that the pages will be archived or that they will be made available in another form.
The EPA's website includes the agency's inventory of greenhouse gas emissions, which contains emissions data from individual industrial facilities as well as the multiagency Climate Change Indicators report, which describes trends related to the causes and effects of climate change.
A leaked report, apparently written by Mr Ebell, had already suggested that the administration would look to "reform" the way the EPA uses science and economics. If the agency didn't make drastic changes then it would "return to its bad old ways" – presumably working to combat the effects of climate change – "as soon as an establishment administration takes office", the document said.
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