Following a four-year break during the Trump administration, climate change information is now fully back on the website of the United States government’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The move is part of President Joe Biden’s promise to “bring science back” and take more ambitious climate action.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump demanded the removal of all climate change references from government websites -- including EPA, the Energy Department, the State Department, and beyond. Trump repeatedly doubted climate change, even calling it a “hoax,” and rejected the US taking further climate action during all his time in office.
This was not with cost. A recent report by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) showed that the use of the term “climate change” fell by 40% across federal environmental agency websites during Trump’s term in office from 2017 to 2021. The report also showed that access to EPA’s website dropped 20% during that time. Trump wanted to remove an important piece of science from government websites, and he succeeded.
But now, science is back.
In a video statement, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan, who was confirmed last week, said: “Climate facts are back on the EPA’s website where they should be. Considering the urgency of this crisis, it’s critical that Americans have access to information and resources so that we can all play a role in protecting our environment, our health, and vulnerable communities.”
The revamped website has two messages on an image carousel on the home page:
A section focuses on the importance of environmental justice. Visitors can search across a map of the US and pull up reports with information on cancer risk, air pollution, proximity to hazardous waste, and more. In New York City, for example, visitors can see that a large part of the city’s population lives close to hazardous waste and wastewater discharge.
The site also includes executive actions signed by Biden concerning climate change, and the links to previous EPA reports and other related federal agencies such as NASA and the national oceanic and atmospheric administration (NOAA) were restored. Still, EPA officials promised that more content will soon be available, urging visitors to “return in the coming weeks as we add new information and features.”
"Americans in every corner of our country are seeing and feeling the effects of climate change," Regan said in his video statement. "Combating climate change, it's not optional, it's essential at the EPA. We will move with a sense of urgency because we know what's at stake. We know that tackling the climate crisis is the single best opportunity we have to strengthen our economy.”
President Biden made climate change a cornerstone of his presidential campaign and acted fast to deliver on his promise. He signed a set of executive orders that covered a range of environmental initiatives – including restoring the US to the Paris Agreement on climate change and suspending new oil and gas leases on public lands and offshore waters.
The US will be hosting on April 22 (Earth Day) a virtual climate leaders’ summit as a way to persuade major emitters to strengthen their national climate commitments (known as NDC). But that will only be credible if the US leads the way with a new and more ambitious target – which is expected to be officialized at the summit next month.