The Department of the Interior has removed almost all mentions of climate change from an agency website documenting efforts to address the phenomenon within government programs for Native Americans.
BuzzFeed News first noticed a webpage for the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Tribal Climate Resilience Program, originally tasked with “mainstreaming climate change considerations into all Bureau of Indian Affairs activities,” was changed sometime over the past month. The program is now called simply the Tribal Resilience Program and has a mission statement noticeably less science-forward.
“The BIA Tribal Resilience Program provides federal-wide resources to Tribes to build capacity and resilience through leadership engagement, delivery of data and tools, training and tribal capacity building,” the site now reads.
An archive of the webpage from May 13 shows the word “climate” appearing on the page 61 times. The new page lists the word once, in a website header.
The move is not a surprising one for the department, now under the stewardship of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
It has made several moves to limit or eliminate mentions of climate change from its vast array of URLs since the inauguration of President Donald Trump. The DOI’s main landing page on climate change previously listed the agency’s vast efforts to combat climate change and pointed to a host of troubling effects related to the issue. In April, however, the page was scrubbed of all such information and the term climate change now appears only once.
The agency has also removed images of melting glaciers and wildfires ― both linked to climate change ― and replaced a landing page photo of a family visiting a national park with one of a giant pile of coal.
DOI’s Bureau of Indian Affairs is tasked with serving and protecting the country’s 567 federally recognized tribes. But as BuzzFeed notes, the Trump administration’s proposed budget for 2018 would eliminate $9.9 million in funding for Tribal Climate Resilience Awards.
Those proposals have prompted severe backlash among some Native American communities, who have called on Congress to restore funding to climate and welfare programs, PBS Newshour reported.
The Trump administration has worked quickly to reverse almost every major environmental effort that former President Barack Obama had made. Most recently, Trump announced the United States would pull out of the landmark Paris climate accord and he tweeted his support Monday for a new coal mine in Pennsylvania.
In March, Zinke ordered the DOI to conduct a “reexamination of the mitigation and climate change policies and guidance across the Department of the Interior in order to better balance conservation strategies and policies with the equally legitimate need of creating jobs for hardworking American families.”
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