After a four-year hiatus during the Donald Trump administration, the climate change webpage is back up on the Environmental Protection Agency website. Not only is climate change a “priority” once again at the agency, but information about how it affects Americans’ lives is now more accessible, inclusive, and interactive.
“Climate facts are back on EPA’s website where they should be,” EPA Administrator Michael Regan said in a press release yesterday.
Information about climate change was drastically pared down on federal websites under former president Trump, who also falsely called climate change a “hoax.” The restored webpage is an important source of vetted information for the public, which is especially crucial considering the spread of misinformation about climate change online and on social media.
Scientists, teachers, and environmental advocates celebrated the return of the EPA’s climate webpage. “We teach our children that it is important to understand science, to gather facts, to do good research,” Dominique Browning, co-founder and director of Moms Clean Air Force, said in a statement. “So you can imagine how pleased Moms are that the agency charged with protecting human health from climate pollution is recommitting to understanding science, gathering facts, and doing good research.”
The website has some new features that make it easier to digest climate information. It links to interactive maps and charts that visitors can click through to learn more about greenhouse gas emissions and how that planet-heating pollution affects the environment and people. The climate page is also now available in English and Spanish. “There’s more content to come,” the website adds.
Regan has also placed environmental justice — the effort to end disparate effects of pollution and climate change on vulnerable communities — front and center on the EPA’s website. “We will put environmental justice where it belongs: at the heart of our plan to tackle climate change,” Regan said in a video.
That’s another dramatic turnaround from what took place during the Trump administration. Environmental justice efforts were sidelined at the time, according to former EPA staff who left while Trump was in office. One former staff member told The Verge last year that he was encouraged to remove the term “environmental justice” from briefing memos because it could “raise flags” for political leadership.
The use of the term “climate change” fell by 40 percent across federal environmental agency websites during Trump’s term in office. And access to as much as 20 percent of the EPA’s website was lost during that time, according to a recent report by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI). The mostly volunteer group of scientists, academics, and other supporters led a high-profile race to save climate data and other environmental information on government websites after Trump was elected. Recently, the group has also recommended policies that would limit any future president’s ability to dismantle federal science websites.
“Federal government: This was paid for by taxpayer dollars. You don’t really have the right to delete or remove it,” Sara Wylie, an associate professor at Northeastern University and a cofounder of EDGI, told The Verge last year.