Explanation: Government Censorship

Silencing Science Tracker

Explanation: Government Censorship

2018-10-02 References to “Climate Change” Removed from EPA Document EPA, Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House Office of Management and Budget removed several paragraphs discussing climate change and its impact on human health from a proposed EPA rule. The removed paragraphs emphasized the particular vulnerability of “children, the elderly, and the poor . . . to climate-related health effects.”

2018-09-18 Climate Change Omitted from National Biodefense Strategy Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House published a new National Biodefense Strategy, outlining measures to prevent and mitigate disease outbreaks. Despite numerous scientific studies finding that climate change will increase the risk of such outbreaks, it is not discussed anywhere in the strategy.

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.

2018-09-05 References to “Climate Change” Removed from EPA Regulatory Impact Analysis EPA, Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House Office of Management and Budget removed several paragraphs discussing climate change and its impact on human health from EPA’s regulatory impact analysis on the proposed Affordable Clean Energy Rule.

2018-09 References to “Climate Change” Removed from Report of Vermont Natural Resources Board State, VT Government Censorship Climate

The Vermont Governor’s office removed several references to “climate change” from a report, prepared by the state Natural Resources Board, exploring changes to the state’s land use permitting process.

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.

2018-07-31 Climate Change Omitted from List of White House R&D Priorities Federal, White House Budget Cuts, Government Censorship Climate

The White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly released a memorandum outlining the Trump administration’s research and development priorities. Unlike previous versions, issued during the Obama administration, the memorandum does not list climate change as a priority area.

2018-07-24 References to “Climate Change” Removed from USAID Report Federal, USAID Government Censorship Climate

References to “climate change” were removed from the U.S. Agency for International Development’s 2017 Sustainability Report. In a departure from previous versions, the 2017 report no longer lists “climate change adaptation” as a priority, and omits a section discussing “proposed actions” to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

2018-07-17 Impacts of Climate Change Downplayed by FEMA DHS, Federal Bias and Misrepresentation, Government Censorship Climate

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) did not discuss climate change in its After Action Report on the 2017 hurricane season. Speaking about the report, FEMA’s Deputy Administrator for Resilience appeared to suggest that climate change is a natural phenomenon, stating “the climate shifts, it changes over time.”

2018-07-06 Release of Health Study Blocked by EPA EPA, Federal Government Censorship Other

Senior EPA officials reported sought to block release of a scientific study discussing the health hazards posed by formaldehyde.

2018-07-02 References to “Climate Change” Removed from Treasury Department Report Federal, Treasury Department Government Censorship Climate

References to “climate change” were removed from the Department of the Treasury’s 2017 Sustainability Report. In a departure from previous versions, the 2017 report no longer lists “climate change resilience” as a goal of the department, and omits discussion of programs aimed at addressing climate change risks.

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.

2018-05-14 Release of Scientific Study Blocked EPA, Federal, HHS, White House Government Censorship Other

White House and EPA officials sought to block publication of HHS study on the health effects of water contamination due to concerns that it would be a “public relations nightmare.”

2018-05-10 References to “Climate Change” Removed from DOD Report DOD, Federal Government Censorship Climate

A DOD report discussing how climate change is affecting military bases was edited to remove several references to “climate change” and downplay its impacts. For example, several references to climate change-induced sea level rise and its impact on military bases were removed, as were references to declines in Arctic sea ice.

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.

2018-05 Discussion of Climate Change Omitted from Florida Governor’s Hurricane Conference FL, State Government Censorship Climate

Florida Governor Rick Scott hosted the Governor’s Hurricane Conference, which is intended to provide information on how to prepare for and recover from hurricanes. None of the conference sessions discussed on climate change or sea level rise, despite significant scientific evidence that those phenomena will increase hurricane severity.

2018-04-23 Release of Federal Sustainability Reports Delayed Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House Office of Management and Budget has delayed the release of sustainability reports prepared by at least seven federal agencies under Executive Order 13693 (signed by President Obama in March 2015).

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.

2018-03-28 EPA Talking Points Misrepresent Climate Science EPA, Federal Bias and Misrepresentation, Government Censorship Climate

EPA’s Office of Public Affairs issued a set of approved talking points on climate change. The talking points appear to be intended to cast doubt on the scientific consensus on climate change, with one stating “[w]hile there has been extensive research . . . clear gaps remain,” including in “our understanding of the role of human activity” in contributing to climate change.

2018-03-15 References “Climate Change” Removed from FEMA Documents DHS, Federal Government Censorship Climate

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) published a new strategic plan in which all references to “climate change” and “global warming” have been removed.

2018-03-09 EPA Staff Participation in Scientific Integrity Survey Restricted EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

EPA scientists were warned against participating in a survey on scientific integrity within the federal government. An email containing a link to the survey was classified as spam “stemming from an unknown entity” by EPA’s Computer Security Incident Response Center, despite those running the survey providing advance notice to that it would be sent.

2018-01-31 Milwaukee Health Department Employees Prevented from Discussing Lead Contamination Local Govt., State, WI Government Censorship Other

Former Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker ordered Health Department employees not to discuss concerns about lead contamination with members of the city council.

2018-01-20 NOAA Climate Change Website Suspended During Government Shutdown DOC, Federal Government Censorship Climate

During the government shutdown, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration temporarily suspended access to a website providing climate change data, while continuing to allow access to several other sites. The climate change website returned to service on January 23, 2018, following the end of the government shutdown.

2018-01-17 NIEHS Director’s Involvement in Scientific Study Investigated Congress, Federal Government Censorship, Research Hindrance Other

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology announced it was reviewing the involvement of Dr. Linda Birnbaum, the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, in a study of federal toxics regulation and requested that HHS also commence a review.

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.

2017-12-14 CDC Staff Given List of Forbidden Words Federal, HHS Government Censorship Other

Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control were given a list of 7 words, including “evidence-based” and “science-based,” which should not be used in documents prepared for next year’s budget.

2017-12-13 References to “Climate Change” Removed from FHWA Program DOT, Federal Government Censorship Climate

The Federal Highway Administration’s “Sustainable Transport and Climate Change” program was renamed the “Sustainable Transportation and Resilience” program and several references to climate change were removed from its 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 Florida Officials Barred from Referencing “Climate Change” FL, State Government Censorship Climate

Florida Governor Rick Scott banned state employees from using the terms “climate change” and “global warming” in official correspondence.

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.

2017-10-30 EPA Scientists’ Speaking Engagements Cancelled EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

EPA cancelled talks by 3 scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on the state of the Narragansett Bay.

2017-10 Forest Service Scientist Prevented from Attending Conference Federal, USDA Government Censorship Climate

A U.S. Forest Service scientist was denied approval to travel to an international fire conference where he was scheduled to speak on severe fire weather conditions and climate change.

2017-10 EPA Website Relaunched Without Climate Change Materials EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

Multiple links to materials aimed at helping local government officials adapt to climate change were removed from EPA’s website.

2017-10 References to “Climate Change” Removed from EPA’s International Website EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

Between October and December 2017, EPA made various changes to its International Cooperation website, including removing information about climate change.

2017-09 Climate Science Page Removed from EPA Website EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

A section on climate science was deleted from the website of EPA’s “SmartWay” program and other sections were amended to remove references to “climate change” and related terms.

2017-09 Database of Science-Based Programs Suspended by HHS Federal, HHS Government Censorship Other

HHS suspended the National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices which lists addiction and mental health programs that have been independently assessed and deemed scientifically sound.

2017-08-31 CDC Employees Prevented from Speaking to Reporters Federal, HHS Government Censorship Other

Employees at the Centers for Disease Control were instructed not to speak with any member of the news media, regardless of the nature of their inquiry, without the approval of the communications office.

2017-08-17 Climate Change Omitted from White House’s List of FY2019 R&D Priorities Federal, White House Budget Cuts, Government Censorship Climate

The White House Office of Management and Budget and Office of Science and Technology Policy jointly released a memorandum outlining the Trump administration’s research and development priorities. Unlike previous versions, issued during the Obama administration, the memorandum does not list climate change as a priority area.

2017-07-27 Climate Change Information Removed from USDA Website Federal, USDA Government Censorship Climate

Information on climate change mitigation and adaptation was removed, and then returned, to USDA’s “Climate Hubs” website.

2017-07 References to “Climate Change” Removed from NIH Website Federal, HHS Government Censorship Climate

References to “climate change” and links to climate-related documents, including an educational fact sheet on climate change and human health, were removed from the National Environmental Health Sciences website.

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.

2017-05-18 “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 EPA Advisory Board Chair Pressured to Change Congressional Testimony EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

The chair of EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors was pressured to change her testimony before Congress to downplay the Trump administration’s decision not to reappoint half of the board’s members.

2017-05 “Climate Change” References Removed from FHWA Website DOT, Federal Government Censorship Climate

References to “climate change” on the FHWA’s website and were replaced with alternate terms such as “resiliency” and “sustainability.”

2017-05 Climate Change Information Buried on EPA Website EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

EPA buried a webpage intended to educate school children about climate change, removing a link to the page from an archived version of its website.

2017-05 References to “Clean Energy” Removed from DOE Website DOE, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOE’s “Clean Energy Investment Center” was renamed the “Energy Investor Center” and all references to “clean energy” were removed from its website.

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.”

2017-04-28 EPA Climate Change Website Removed EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

EPA’s climate change website was removed and replaced with a message indicating that it is being updated to reflect the agency’s priorities under President Trump.

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.

2017-04 EPA Scientist’s Participation in Public Events Restricted EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

An EPA scientist was warned not to speak on climate change at public-facing events or to have such events approved by headquarters in advance.

2017-04 Benefits of Renewable Energy Downplayed by DOE DOE, Federal Government Censorship Climate

DOE changed its website to remove references to renewable energy as a low-emission alternative to fossil fuels and focus solely on renewable energy’s potential to create jobs.

2017-04 Oil and Gas Production Risks Downplayed on GAO Website Federal, GAO Government Censorship Climate, Other

A GOA website on managing federal oil and gas resources was edited to remove content on the environmental and public health risks of shale oil and gas production.

2017-04 Climate Change Resources Removed from DOE Website DOE, Federal Government Censorship Climate

Links to various climate change resources, including the National Climate Assessment, were removed from the DOE’s main climate change website.

2017-04 DOE Scientists Prevented from Attending Conference DOE, Federal Government Censorship Other

Up to 27 DOE scientists were told they could not attend the 2017 International Atomic Energy Agency conference.

2017-03-07 Word “Science” Removed from EPA Science Office Website EPA, Federal Government Censorship Other

References to EPA’s Office of Science and Technology policy developing “science-based standards” were changed to read “economically and technologically achievable standards.”

2017-03 WSU Researcher Investigated by Washington Legislators State, WA Government Censorship, Research Hindrance Other

Washington State Representative Joel Kretz and State Senator Mark Schoesler filed a scientific misconduct complaint against a Washington State University (WSU) professor in relation to a 2014 study he had conducted on wolf predation. Representative Kretz had previously sought to discredit the study, including by having the professor fired by WSU.

2017-02-09 EPA Staff Prevented from Attending Climate Conference EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate

Half of the 34 EPA staffers scheduled to attend the Alaska Forum on the Environment were told they could no longer attend the event.

2017-02-08 Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine Slated for Closure State, WI Budget Cuts, Government Censorship Climate, Other

In his budget proposal for 2017-19, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker recommended that the state Department of Natural Resources cease publishing a bimonthly magazine, providing information on environmental issues. Critics say the move is intended to “create a vacuum and black out information on very important environmental issues” such as climate change.

2017-02-03 EPA Employees Warned About Speaking Publicly EPA, Federal Government Censorship Climate, Other

EPA staff received an email warning them that, while they are free to speak publicly, doing so presents risks.

2017-02 Animal Welfare Documents Removed from USDA Website Federal, USDA Government Censorship Other

Thousands of documents detailing animal welfare violations were removed from USDA’s website after being made publicly available for decades.

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.

2017-02 References to “Climate Change” Removed from Idaho Science Education Standards ID, State Government Censorship, Interference with Education Climate

The Idaho House of Representatives Education Committee voted to remove references to “climate change” from draft science education standards.

2017-01-25 EPA Scientists’ Research Subject to Review Before Publication EPA, Federal Government Censorship, Research Hindrance Climate, Other

The head of communications for the EPA transition team indicated that agency scientists would be required to have their research reviewed before publication.

2017-01-21 Arctic Strategy Removed from White House Website Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House deleted links to the U.S. National Strategy for the Arctic and related documents from its website.

2017-01-20 “Climate Change” References Removed from White House Website Federal, White House Government Censorship Climate

The White House website was re-launched with all references to “climate change” removed.

2017-01 Climate Change Pages Removed from State Department Website Federal, State Department Government Censorship Climate

The State Department removed various pages mentioning climate change from its website, including a page providing links to the department’s 2010, 2014, and 2016 Climate Action Reports.

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.

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

The Trump transition team instructed HHS 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.

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

The Trump transition team instructed USDA 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.

2017 Materials Removed from HHS Website Federal, HHS Government Censorship Other

Between June and December 2017, various content was removed from the website of HHS’s Office of Women’s Health, including pages discussing breast cancer and lesbian and bisexual health.

2016-12 References to “Climate Change” Removed from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ Website State, WI Government Censorship Climate

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website was changed to downplay the scientific consensus on climate change. A section describing “[h]uman activities . . . [as] the main cause” of climate change was removed and replaced with a statement that the “reasons for [climate] change . . . are being debated.” Another section discussing the likely adverse effects of climate change was also removed and replace with a statement that possible effects “are being debated.”

2016-11 References to “Climate Change” Removed from CDC Website Federal, HHS Government Censorship, Self-Censorship Climate

In late 2016, following the presidential election, several references to “climate change” were removed from the website of the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.