An EPA webpage that rejected climate denial claims and defended the endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions has been removed by the Trump administration.

It’s just one of many pages that discussed climate change to be removed from the EPA website in recent days.

The webpage documented the EPA’s response to petitions that challenged the agency’s 2009 endangerment finding for greenhouse gas emissions. It said:

EPA determined in December 2009 that climate change caused by emissions of greenhouse gases threatens the public’s health and the environment. Since then, EPA received ten petitions challenging this determination. On July 29, 2010, EPA denied these petitions.

The petitions to reconsider EPA’s “Endangerment Finding” claimed that climate science can’t be trusted, and asserted a conspiracy that calls into question the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, and the U.S. Global Change Research Program.

After months of serious consideration of the petitions and of the state of climate change science, EPA found no evidence to support these claims.

The scientific evidence supporting EPA’s finding is robust, voluminous, and compelling. Climate change is happening now, and humans are contributing to it. Multiple lines of evidence show a global warming trend over the past 100 years. Beyond this, melting ice in the Arctic, melting glaciers around the world, increasing ocean temperatures, rising sea levels, altered precipitation patterns, and shifting patterns of ecosystems and wildlife habitats all confirm that our climate is changing.

Screenshot of the removed webpage from Google Cache

It included links to the EPA’s response to issues raised by the petitioners regarding the science and process on which the agency based its endangerment finding. The page also included links to investigations into the so-called ClimateGate conspiracy theory that EPA said, “have all resulted in clearing the scientists of alleged wrong-doing.”

The petitioners included fossil fuel utility interests, such as Alpha Natural Resources and Peabody Energy. They also included special interest groups, including the Competitive Enterprise Institute and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that have received funding from the fossil fuel and utility industries.

A link to the webpage now lands on a page with the message, “This page is being updated.”

“We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator Pruitt,” the new webpage said. “If you’re looking for an archived version of this page, you can find it on the January 19 snapshot.”

The archived web page can still be found here, where it is labeled as “historical material” in a note that explains, “This is not the current EPA website.” Another archived webpage includes copies of the petitions against the endangerment finding.

During the 2016 election, then candidate Donald Trump pledged to review the endangerment finding in his response to a questionnaire from the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a group with ties to the Koch brothers and the coal industry. Trump later tapped Thomas Pyle, the president of AEA, to lead his energy transition team.

A memo, “From the Desk of Thomas Pyle,” that was obtained by the Center for Media & Democracy outlined AEA’s expectations for the Trump administration. Among them:

Reconsidering the “endangerment finding.” In response to Massachusetts v. EPA, the Obama administration found that greenhouse gas emissions harmed human health and welfare. This is the regulatory predicate to the Obama administration’s Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) mandates and Clean Power Plan and greatly expanded EPA’s power. This finding will be reconsidered and possibly revoked, marking a major blow to underpinning for many climate regulations.

Trump also tapped Myron Ebell, a climate denier at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, to lead his EPA transition team. Now Ebell and Pyle are pushing the Trump administration to review the endangerment finding. However, Christopher Guith, a senior vice president for the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for 21st Century Energy, has warned that there will be a political price to pay if the Trump administration targets the finding.

There’s going to be hell to pay from, you know, soccer moms and soccer dads all throughout the country,” Guith said. “People who probably voted for Donald Trump.”

Scott Pruitt, now EPA administrator for the Trump administration, challenged the endangerment finding in court and lost as Oklahoma’s attorney general. Pruitt recently told CNBC that he does not agree that carbon dioxide is the primary contributor to climate change, and signaled that he would like to see Congress tackle the endangerment finding.  

Any effort by the Trump administration to roll back the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions would face serious opposition, and an uphill battle in courts that have a record of soundly rejecting climate deniers’ attacks on science.

Posted by Dave Anderson

Dave Anderson is the policy and communications manager for the Energy and Policy Institute. Dave has been working at the nexus of clean energy and public policy since 2008. Prior to joining the Energy and Policy Institute, he was an outreach coordinator for the climate and energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is also an alumnus of the Sierra Club and the Alliance for Climate Protection (now the Climate Reality Project). Dave’s research has helped to spur public scrutiny of political attacks on clean energy and climate science by powerful special interests, such as ExxonMobil and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). His work has been cited by major media outlets, such as CBS News and the Wall Street Journal, and he has served as a speaker on panels at national solar industry conferences. Dave holds a MA in Political Science from the University of New Hampshire, where he also received a BA in Humanities.