The release of emails uncovers how Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt watched efforts to remove climate change information from the agency's website like a hawk last year, according to CBS News.
Former President Barack Obama's effort to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants was definitely on his radar, the internal EPA emails show. The messages dating back to April 2017 follow a Freedom of Information Act request filed by advocacy group Environmental Defense Fund. The emails reveal new political appointees' instructions to the agency's press office to remove information from the EPA's website.
Pruitt wanted to make sure that specific updates to the website appeared as soon as possible.
The email was sent to staffers April 1 by former Republican campaign operative John Konkus, who was hired as the EPA's deputy associate administrator for Public Affairs.
"We need to start building an updated page for the clean power plan ASAP with the goal of having it go live sometime on Monday," Konkus wrote. "Is there any way we can get a little time put in on this project over the weekend so that we're off on the right foot on Monday morning?"
A few days before the forwarding of the message, President Donald Trump signed an executive order on energy independence. It consisted of a directive to start the process of revoking "the Clean Power Plan and other environmental regulations that 'potentially burden' the domestic production of fossil fuels," according to CBS News.
Outrage among scientists and environmentalists ensued after this move in which Pruitt implemented changes that included scrubbing data about climate change and modifying search results for "Clean Power Plan."
"Obscuring information thwarts meaningful public participation in EPA's work to protect Americans' health and safety," said Ben Levitan, a lawyer with the Environmental Defense Fund. "It reinforces serious concerns that Pruitt has predetermined that he will repeal the Clean Power Plan, and that the current rulemaking process is a sham."
Pruitt spent most of his time as attorney general of the oil and gas-intensive state of Oklahoma, fighting the same agency he'd been nominated to lead. He's one of many of Trump's appointed officials who are currently leading departments whose core mission they are solely against.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was appointed by Trump to lead the Department of Justice and was accused of racism when he was attorney general of Alabama for "voter suppression," and Ben Carson, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, holds a firm opposition to government programs that encourage "dependency" and involve "social engineering."
It's deeply troubling that instead of appointing qualified and non-corrupt officials to head departments, this is the best Trump could've done. Denying the obvious by removing mentions of climate and climate change from the agency's website only puts this country at risk of more detrimental natural disasters like Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, which devastated areas of the country over the summer.