Climate Change Information Gone from DOI Website

Posted on Posted in Blog

By Gretchen Gehrke 

EDGI Report: DOI Further Restricts Access to Climate Change Web Pages

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) manages approximately one-fifth of the land area of the United States, including millions of acres it leases for oil and gas extraction.[1] In 2018, the DOI opened more land for lease than ever before and boasted that it had the highest number of oil and gas leases in history, reaping $1.1 billion in revenue.[2] Meanwhile fires raged across the western United States throughout the much of 2018. Within weeks of President Trump declaring a State of Emergency for California,[3] EDGI has found that DOI blocked all access to its Climate Change webpage and removed “Climate Change” from its list of priorities.[4]

At one time, the DOI Climate Change webpage had been a central landing page for information about climate change, how climate change is affecting the nation’s natural resources, and the strategies DOI uses to address challenges presented by climate change.[5] However, in spring 2017, the DOI stripped almost all of the content from that page, replacing it with a simple paragraph acknowledging that the impacts of climate change affect how DOI needs to manage federal lands.[6] As of spring 2019, climate change information is scarce on the DOI website. In fact, the first page of search results from searching the DOI website for “climate change” or from searching Google for “DOI climate change” include a single resource within the DOI website about climate change, which is a library index with a compilation of links to external resources on climate change.[7] All other results are from agencies within the DOI or from federal coalitions of which the DOI is a part. For a department that manages hundreds of millions of acres and leases tens of millions of acres to an industry whose purpose is to take carbon from the lithosphere in order to introduce it to the atmosphere, it is remarkable that there is now not even a single webpage explicitly about climate change on the DOI website.

References

[1] Congressional Research Service, “Federal Land Ownership: Overview and Data,” Report R 42346, March 3, 2017; https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R42346 accessed on March 14, 2019.

[2] Department of the Interior, “Energy Revolution Unleashed: Interior Shatters Previous Records with $1.1 Billion in 2018 Oil and Gas Lease Sales,” February 6, 2019; https://www.doi.gov/news/energy-revolution-unleashed-interior-shatters-previous-records-11-billion-2018-oil-and-gas accessed on March 14, 2019. 

[3] Federal Emergency Management Agency, “President Donald J. Trump Signs Emergency Declaration for California,” July 28, 2018; https://www.fema.gov/news-release/2018/07/28/president-donald-j-trump-signs-emergency-declaration-california accessed on March 14, 2019. 

[4] Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, “DOI Further Restricts Access to Climate Change Web Resources,” February 28, 2019; https://envirodatagov.org/aar-11-doi-climate-190228/ accessed on March 14, 2019.

[5] https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20170226041139/https://www.doi.gov/climate accessed on March 14, 2019. 

[6] Environmental Data and Governance Initiative, “Confirmation of Changes to Department of the Interior’s Climate Change Page,” April 28, 2017; https://envirodatagov.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/WM-CCR-15-DOI-Climate-Change-Confirmation-170428.pdf accessed on March 14, 2019. 

[7] https://www.doi.gov/library/internet/climate accessed on March 14, 2019