Donald Trump will not turn off EPA's data service, despite website's own alert, officials say

Claims that the site was being turned off were based on a misunderstanding about the potential shutdown of government later this week, officials suggested

Andrew Griffin
Monday 24 April 2017 09:43 BST
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks following a tour of the Flint water plant on September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks following a tour of the Flint water plant on September 14, 2016 in Flint, Michigan

A pop-up on one of the US government's data services suggested that it is to be shut down, but the agency that operates it has suggested instead that it will be staying online.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Open Data Web service – which stores information on climate change, life cycle assessment, health impact analysis and environmental justice – was to have its funding removed and will no longer be in operation, people that worked on the plan said. A pop-up on the site appeared to confirm the shutdown, with anyone visiting the Open Data page told that the site will not be operational from Friday.

But since this story was first published, that message has been updated to read: "The data on this Web site will continue to be available on April 28, 2017". The EPA also tweeted to say that the website wasn't going anywhere and that it is "open, working and not going anywhere", though it seemed to be experiencing occasional outages.

EPA officials also suggested after this post was published that the contractor who claimed the site was shutting down had done so on the basis of the government shutdown, not a permanent removal of funding or taking offline.

"The web site is not shutting down," a spokesperson, JP Friere, reportedly told Snopes. "The source of the message was a contractor who was unauthorized and misinformed. [...] The message was removed after about two hours and replaced with a message that stated that the data would continue to be available."

The service was said to go dark on Friday, according to earlier reports from contractors and notes on the government's website. It wasn't initially clear whether it would be temporarily halted until more money can be found – potentially in the budget that is leading the US government to head towards a shutdown at the end of the week – or if the shutdown will be permanent, as contractor Bernadette Hyland claimed.

Later reports from EPA officials said those claims were wrong and that the site would be staying online, even through the government shutdown.

The news came as the Trump administration announced that the President would be signing a range of new laws that roll back protections on drilling and protections for the environment.

"This builds on previous executive actions that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers," the official said on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday, Trump is expected to sign an executive order related to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which enables the president to designate federal areas of land and water as national monuments to protect them from drilling, mining and development, the source said.

On Friday, Trump is expected to sign an order to review areas available for offshore oil and gas exploration, as well as rules governing offshore drilling.

The new measures would build on a number of energy- and environment-related executive orders signed by Trump seeking to gut most of the climate change regulations put in place by predecessor President Barack Obama.

A summary of the forthcoming orders, seen by Reuters, say past administrations "overused" the Antiquities Act, putting more federal areas under protection than necessary.

Additional reporting by Reuters

Update: Since this story was first published, EPA officials have denied that the website will be taken offline and that it may continue to operate throughout the government shutdown. The pop-up and claims by a contractor that the site was being turned off permanently were based on confusion about the government shutdown, they suggested. This story has been updated to reflect those claims and make clear that the EPA denies the website will be going offline.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in