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Energy Dept. Scrubs Paris Agreement From Climate Page

The expunging of climate information from government websites under President Trump continues to march forward with the latest changes happening to the Energy Department.

The agency’s climate change page once prominently featured a video about the Paris Agreement along with extra links to climate information. Now it’s a little more barren.

While the main text has remained, the Paris Agreement video is gone, replaced by a stock photo of the earth on a patch of grass. The caption for the video, which linked to the Energy Department’s report from the 2015 climate talks and a page on how to solve climate change, has also disappeared, though those pages remain accessible.

Earlier this week, the Energy Department's climate change page removed a video touting the Paris Agreement and links to federal climate information. The image on the left shows the current page and the image on the right shows its former version.

The sidebar with links to climate sites across the government like data.gov and the National Climate Assessment and the National Centers for Environmental Information have also been deleted. A callout to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan has also been removed, in keeping with changes like those at the Environmental Protection Agency. The Energy Department did not respond to questions from Climate Central about the purpose or timing of the changes.

The alterations — first reported by E&E News — come a bit more than a week after Politico reported employees at the Energy Department’s Office of International Climate and Clean Energy were told to not include the words “climate change,” “emissions reduction” or “Paris Agreement” in written communications. According to that report, other employees at the Energy Department haven’t received similar orders, but have nonetheless begun avoiding climate terms given the Trump administration’s generally hostile stance toward climate change.

Other federal websites have changed language and a number of leaders at federal agencies have raised unfounded doubts about the role of carbon pollution in driving climate change. That includes Rick Perry, who runs the Energy Department and dodged climate questions during his confirmation hearing.

Trump’s recent climate-related executive order is the most public salvo yet to attempt to roll back climate regulations put in place under the Obama administration.

Behind the scenes, there have also been widespread news reports of whether the White House will stay in the Paris Agreement. Removing a video from the climate page on the Energy Department’s site isn’t the final stake in the heart — and the video does remain accessible on the agency’s YouTube page — but it does intimate a shift with international cooperation on climate change taking a backseat to other administration priorities.

Key programs at the Energy Department that could help the U.S. meet its Paris Agreement commitments are also under fire in Trump’s budget proposal.

The Office of Science, which oversees 10 national laboratories that work in part on climate and energy problems, faces a proposed cut of $900 million. That would lop off 16 percent of the office’s current budget.

The budget also proposes eliminating funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a program that funds work on next-generation energy projects that aren’t ready for market yet. The program is modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which you can thank in part for helping creating GPS and the internet.

The final budget will be tweaked by Congress so these cuts may not come to pass. Congress doesn’t control federal agency’s websites, however, so more changes are likely in the coming weeks and months as the Trump administration charts its course on climate action — or inaction.

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