Since Donald Trump was elected president, climate scientists afraid of government-sponsored censorship have been scrambling to back up their data. On Friday these fears were realized when the URL www.whitehouse.gov/energy/climate-change disappeared – it now redirects to the website of the newly inaugurated president’s transition team.
The page that once outlined Barack Obama’s plans to combat climate change and protect the environment now details the America First Energy Plan, which accuses environmental regulations with harming workers and promises to revive the coal industry.
“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry,” the newly updated page reads. “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.”
The Climate Action Plan, which was proposed by Mr. Obama in 2013, called for reduced carbon emissions through use of renewable energy, and increased study of climate change. The Waters of the U.S. Rule is an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that protects waterways within the U.S., including many critics believe should fall under state jurisdiction.
Not only does the new website not mention climate change, it no longer allows the public to read about existing laws regarding climate change. The Washington Post reports that the White House pages about the National Environmental Policy Act and the Council on Environmental Quality can no longer be found.
By nature, laws can only be fairly upheld if they are understood by the people who must abide by them – a difficult task when the government responsible for upholding the law purposely hides that information, unless of course the government does not really want them upheld.
With any luck, the watchful eye of the climate conscious public will not let these changes go unnoticed and thereby Mr. Trump and his administration accountable.
Here to help in that goal is Columbia Law School’s newly designed Climate Deregulation Tracker – a system designed to keep track of regulatory changes made by Trump’s administration on climate change, renewable energy and the fossil fuel industry. The tool was made in anticipation of the changed President Trump’s team would enact and aims to provide context for these changes.
“We think it’s really important the Trump administration’s climate policies aren’t being viewed in a vacuum,” Michael Burger, executive director of Colombia’s Sabin Center for Climate Law, which created the tool, told InsideClimate News.