Statement by EDGI’s Website Tracking Committee
April 28, 2017 11:00 PM ET—This evening, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an overhaul of its website, EPA.gov, to “reflect the agency’s new direction under President Donald Trump and Administrator Scott Pruitt.” The full statement regarding the website overhaul can be found here. At the time of this release, the EPA statement had been altered, removing the words “as required by law” in reference to the statement that the “screenshot of the last administration’s website will remain available from the main page.” (View all historical versions of the statement here.) The archived snapshot of the entire EPA.gov domain from January 19, 2017 is currently available, linked from the EPA’s current homepage, here.
Regarding the content being targeted in the website overhaul, the EPA’s statement notes specifically:
“The first page to be updated is a page reflecting President Trump’s Executive Order on Energy Independence, which calls for a review of the so-called Clean Power Plan. Language associated with the Clean Power Plan, written by the last administration, is out of date. Similarly, content related to climate and regulation is also being reviewed.”
At the time of this release, the URL for the prior EPA.gov Climate Change page, www.epa.gov/climatechange, already redirects to a statement that can be found here. Prior versions of the page are available in the EPA’s archive here and the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine here. Other pages that serve as climate change resources, like the prior Climate Change Science page, found in the EPA’s archive here, redirect in a similar manner.
While it remains to be seen how information and information access will change as the EPA site is updated, it is concerning that this overhaul was not announced until the same day that pages like the Climate Change page, which serve as important public resources, were already becoming unavailable. Notification by the EPA about the impending website overhaul represents a degree of transparency, but a comprehensive overhaul should be announced with enough notice for documentation and with a complete listing of which pages will become unavailable and be altered.
It is of particular concern that these important climate change resources have been made inaccessible to the public the evening before the People’s Climate March. The timing of this overhaul cuts off availability when access to trusted information about the science behind climate change will be necessary to enable a conversation about our changing climate.
EDGI’s Website Tracking Team will be evaluating shifts in access and language as the EPA.gov overhaul progresses. We will also be continuing to check that the legally mandated January 19, 2017 archived snapshot of EPA.gov remains online and accessible, and clearly reporting any changes to its status.
Note: It is the practice of EDGI’s Website Tracking Team not to report on exact changes to websites or the broader significance of those changes until we have examined them closely and reports detailing the changes have been written and thoroughly vetted. Past reports and accompanying journalistic articles from EDGI’s Website Tracking Team can be found here.