Next Score View the next score

    Boston posts data that disappeared from EPA’s website

    A screenshot of the website.
    Screen capture
    A screenshot of the website.

    Soon after President Trump took office, the Environmental Protection Agency began removing links on its website to data that reflected years of research into the causes of climate change.

    Now, Boston and many other cities are returning the information to the public sphere through municipal websites, part of a revolt against Trump’s efforts to overturn policies designed to curb the greenhouse gases causing the planet to warm.

    “We want to make sure that there’s access to the decades-long research that used to be readily accessible on the EPA’s website,” said Austin Blackmon, the city’s environmental chief. “It’s a critical resource for many people.”


    The new site,, reflects the city’s increasingly active response to Trump’s approach to climate change.

    After President Trump announced this month he intends to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris climate accord, Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined hundreds of other mayors in a pledge to reduce carbon emissions through local resolutions and coordinated environmental policies.

    Walsh even bathed City Hall in green light in defiance, reflecting Boston’s solidarity with more than 190 nations that pledged two years ago in Paris to fight global warming.

    Publishing the climate data was “important to show Boston residents that we take the science of climate change seriously,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.
    Timothy Tai for The Boston Globe/File 2016
    Publishing the climate data was “important to show Boston residents that we take the science of climate change seriously,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh.

    The city’s decision to publish the climate data was “important to show Boston residents that we take the science of climate change seriously,” Walsh said in a prepared statement.

    Before the information was taken down in April, the EPA’s website had presented a broad range of findings from years of scientific research, using ice cores, tree rings, pollen remains — everything from tide gauges to satellites — to answer questions such as “Why is the climate changing?” and “What can we do about this change?”


    Among the answers, which are now buried in archived portions of the website: “Research indicates that natural causes do not explain most observed warming, especially warming since the mid-20th century. Rather, it is extremely likely that human activities have been the dominant cause of that warming.”

    That answer, as well as other detailed responses to similar questions, can now be found on the Boston site as well as those sponsored by other cities.

    “Here, in Boston, we know climate change is real and we will continue to take action to fight it,” Boston city officials wrote on the site.

    Boston is one of 14 cities to post the data on its website, following the lead of Chicago.

    “It is inspiring to see mayors from across the country stand up for the environment through the preservation of climate information data deleted from the Web by the Trump administration,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a prepared statement.


    “Making climate change research widely available underscores that facts cannot be disputed and science cannot be erased,” he said.

    EPA officials didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
    The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
    Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

    In April, the EPA announced that its website would be “undergoing changes” to reflect the administration’s priorities.

    Among the information deleted were the agency’s responses to previous statements by Scott Pruitt before Trump appointed him administrator. Pruitt, who was Oklahoma’s attorney general, has long opposed action to address climate change. Trump has called climate change “a hoax” and has proposed cutting the EPA’s budget next year by 31 percent — more than any other federal agency.

    Other pages that disappeared included data about carbon emissions in states and cities, the impact of such emissions on different demographic groups, and details about the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, its signature climate program. The plan, which Pruitt seeks to end, aimed to reduce emissions from power plants.

    “As EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” J.P. Freire, the agency’s associate administrator for public affairs, said in a prepared statement at the time. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”

    The agency noted in April it would maintain a link to information that was on the site before Trump’s inauguration, and the main EPA page now includes a link to a “snapshot” of the site from Jan. 19.

    But that page informs visitors the website is “no longer updated and links to external website and some internal pages may not work.”

    Among the links that haven’t been updated is an agency Web page called “A Student’s Guide to Global Climate Change,” which used to have a prominent spot on the EPA site.

    The page featured educational videos about climate science and allowed students to calculate their own carbon footprint.

    That link remains broken, even on the rebuilt EPA site on Boston’s website.

    David Abel can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @davabel.