Agency: DOI

Silencing Science Tracker

Agency: DOI

2018-09-10 References to “Climate Change” Removed from NPS Report DOI, Federal Government Censorship, Self-Censorship Climate

A draft planning document, developed for the New Bedford Whaling Historical Park, was edited to remove all references to “climate change.” The edits were made after officials in the National Park Service’s Northeast Regional Office warned park employees that “we’re being told . . . [to] avoid” discussion of future climate impacts.

2018-09-09 Scientific Data and Records to be Destroyed by DOI DOI, Federal Government Censorship, Research Hindrance Other

DOI filed a “Request for Records Disposition Authority” with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). In the request, DOI seeks permission from NARA to destroy records relating to its conservation, land use, energy, and water programs. Many of the records document the findings of scientific research or contain data needed to conduct such research.

2018-09-03 FWS Officials Interfered in Scientific Study DOI, Federal Research Hindrance Other

Scientists from Oklahoma State University and the University of Georgia were engaged by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to contribute to a study of the impact of farming on an endangered insect. The scientists allege that FWS officials dismissed concerns they raised about the study’s methodology and pressured them to “work on a rushed timeline at odds with what they saw as good science.”

2018-08-14 NPS Scientists Avoiding Discussion of “Climate Change” DOI, Federal Self-Censorship Climate

A survey of scientists at DOI’s National Park Service found that over one-quarter engage in self-censorship, avoiding discussion of, and work on, climate change even when not explicitly told to do so.

2018-08-14 Public Communication by NPS Scientists Restricted DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

A survey of scientists at DOI’s National Park Service found various restrictions on their ability to communicate with the public and journalists.

2018-08-14 FWS Scientists Prevented from Discussing or Researching “Politically Contentious” Topics DOI, Federal Government Censorship, Research Hindrance Climate, Other

A survey of scientists at DOI’s Fish and Wildlife Service found that many have been told not to work on topics deemed “politically contentious” and to omit “politically contentious” words, including “climate change” and “science,” from their reports.

2018-08-14 USGS Scientists Avoiding Discussion of “Climate Change” DOI, Federal Self-Censorship Climate

A survey of scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey found that nearly one-third engage in self-censorship, avoiding discussion of, and work on, climate change even when not explicitly told to do so.

2018-08-14 USGS Scientists Prevented from Researching “Politically Contentious” Topics DOI, Federal Research Hindrance Climate, Other

A survey of scientists at DOI’s U.S. Geological Survey found that many have been asked or told not to work on topics deemed “politically contentious.”

2018-06-21 Public Communication by USGS Scientists Restricted DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

DOI issued a new media protocol that requires scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey to obtain approval before speaking to journalists. The protocol permits DOI to reject interview requests on scientific matters.

2018-06-14 New Conference Approval Process Adopted by USGS DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

The U.S. Geological Survey, within the Department of the Interior, will require scientists wishing to attend certain conferences to provide their presentation title(s) and an explanation of how their research relates to the priorities of Interior Secretary Zinke. The information will be reviewed by a political appointee, who will determine which scientists can attend each conference.

2018-05-03 DOI Staff Prevented from Attending Scientific Conference DOI, Federal Government Censorship Other

DOI’s Bureau of Land Management prevented at least 14 scientists from attending the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. Several of those prevented from attending had been scheduled to speak at a symposium, which had to be cancelled due to the lack of participation by government scientists.

2018-04-02 References to Humans’ Role in Climate Change Removed from NPS Report DOI, Federal Government Censorship, Self-Censorship Climate

Officials at the National Parks Service edited a report on the impact of sea level rise and flooding on coastal national parks to remove all references to humans’ role in causing climate change.

2018-03-23 Charters of BLM Advisory Councils Revised DOI, Federal Bias and Misrepresentation, Research Hindrance Climate, Other

DOI revised the charters of twenty-one resource advisory councils responsible for advising the Bureau of Land Management. Under the revised charters, councils are required to “provide recommendations for implementation” of various executive orders and secretarial orders, leading to concerns that they will be put “in a position of implementing an agenda rather than providing solid advice.”

2018-02-12 DOI Budget Cuts Proposed for FY19 DOI, Federal Budget Cuts Climate, Other

The Trump administration’s FY2019 budget proposes to reduce funding for DOI by 16.8% (compared to FY2017 levels). The reductions are achieved, in part, through cuts to various DOI grant programs.

2018-02 DOI Secretary Accused of Breaching Scientific Integrity Policy DOI, Federal Personnel Changes Climate, Other

Two senior scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey resigned in protest over an alleged breach of the USGS’s scientific integrity policy by the Secretary of the Interior.

2017-12-28 New Grants Process Adopted by DOI DOI, Federal Budget Cuts, Research Hindrance Other

DOI staff were directed to ensure that grants to outside groups promote the Trump Administration’s policies and have certain grants of $50,000 or more approved by political appointees.

2017-12-20 Climate Change Documents Removed from NPS Website DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

Documents describing the climate action plans of 92 national parks were removed from the National Park Service website.

2017-12 DOI Scientists Prevented from Attending Conference DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOI capped the number of staff who could attend the American Geophysical Union’s annual meeting at 199 (down from 450 in previous years).

2017-12 Funding for Offshore Drilling Safety Study Suspended DOI, Federal Budget Cuts Other

DOI ordered the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to “stop-work” on a study of offshore oil and gas drilling commissioned by BSEE pending review.

2017-11 NPS Staff Reprimanded for Climate Change Tweet DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

The Secretary of the Interior reprimanded the head of Joshua Tree National Park after climate change-related tweets were posted from the park’s account.

2017-08-18 Coal Mining Study Paused by DOI DOI, Federal Budget Cuts Other

DOI’s Office of Surface Mining directed the National Academy of Sciences to stop work on a study of potential health effects from mountaintop removal coal mining. DOI had previously committed $1 million for the study, but is now reconsidering its funding decision.

2017-07 NPS Scientist Excluded from Tour DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOI prevented the Superintendent of Glacier National Park, a noted climate change expert, from participating in Mark Zuckerberg’s tour of the park.

2017-07 DOI Scientists Involuntarily Reassigned DOI, Federal Personnel Changes Climate

Approximately 50 DOI employees, including some working on climate-related issues, were involuntarily reassigned to unrelated positions.

2017-05-23 DOI’s FY18 Budget Cut by Trump Administration DOI, Federal Budget Cuts Climate, Other

The Trump administration’s FY2018 budget proposed a 19% cut in funding for climate and environmental research programs at DOI.

2017-05-18 “Climate Change” References Removed from USGS Press Release DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOI amended the press release for a paper on sea level rise to remove a sentence identifying climate change as its cause.

2017-05 DOI Advisory Boards Suspended or Eliminated DOI, Federal Personnel Changes Climate, Other

DOI froze the work of more than 200 advisory boards, committees, and subcommittees to enable it to review “the charter and charge of each committee.” DOI also allowed the charter of the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science to expire.

2017-05 Climate Change Page Removed from BLM Website DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

A page describing efforts to address climate change, and providing links to DOI and other federal resources on climate change and renewable energy, was removed from the Bureau of Land Management’s website.

2017-05 Word “Climate” Removed from BIA Program Name DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

The “Tribal Climate Resilience Program” was renamed the “Tribal Resilience Program” and all references to “climate” and “climate change” were removed from its website.

2017-05 DOI Scientists Work Criticized by Political Appointees DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

Political appointees at DOI criticized a U.S Geological Survey press release, which described climate change as “dramatically” reducing the size of glaciers. One official described the statement as a “perfect example of [scientists] going outside their wheelhouse” and another indicated that “we need to watch for inflammatory [language] in their press releases.”

2017-04-19 Climate Change Information Removed from DOI Website DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOI’s main climate change webpage was revised to omit various references to the adverse effects of climate change and a detailed discussion of DOI’s climate change priorities.

2017-02 Impact of Fossil Fuels Downplayed by DOI DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOI removed several references to the adverse effects of fossil fuels and the need to develop cleaner renewable energy technologies from its energy website.

2017-01-24 NPS Climate Change Tweets Deleted DOI, Federal Self-Censorship Climate

The Badlands national park deleted four tweets, containing basic scientific facts about climate change, from its account. The tweets were reportedly posted by a former employee who was not authorized to use the park’s account.

2017-01 Public Communication by DOI Staff Restricted DOI, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

The Trump transition team instructed DOI staff not to send out press releases, post on social media or blogs, or update websites and to consult with senior officials before speaking to the media.