The Pennsylvania state agency that regulates gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing was explicitly ordered by members of Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration to remove several references to “climate change” from the agency’s website, a former agency employee told the Allegheny Front on Friday.
Adrian Stouffer, a former Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) marketing manager, told the paper that she and other agency employees were told to delete the references to climate change during a meeting at Corbett’s offices in 2012. The administration officials reportedly didn’t want all mentions of climate change taken off the website, but did want references taken off “in cases where we looked like we were giving a position” on whether or not humans cause global warming.
“A lot of it was re-worded to not use the words ‘climate change,’ and other parts were deleted,” Stouffer reportedly told the Allegheny Front. DCNR spokesperson Christina Novak confirmed that the Corbett administration requested the changes to the website, saying they were typical changes that happen whenever a new governor takes office.
“Agencies typically review websites to determine if information being communicated with the public is consistent with policy platforms of the new administration,” Novak reportedly said. “That was done several years ago, and we had about a half dozen places on the websites DCNR maintains where we made some changes to existing language.”
It’s not surprising that Corbett would be weary of having his administration acknowledge the threat of human-caused climate change. As ClimateProgress has pointed out in our Climate Guide to Governors, the governor has questioned the science behind whether climate change is a threat, characterizing it as a “subject of debate” among scientists. While in office, he has defunded programs to research climate change impacts to the state, appointed a climate science denier to head his Environmental Protection agency, and has eliminated programs to encourage renewable energy development and conservation.
One specific reference to climate change on DCNR’s “iConservePA.org” website that was removed was one that discussed reasons Pennsylvanians should be concerned. That removed reference, shown below, calls climate change “perhaps the most significant environmental issue facing the world today,” and talks about Pennsylvania’s own contributing to greenhouse gas emissions.
This is not the first time a state agency has removed references to climate change from its website following the induction of a less-than-climate-friendly Governor. In March, for example, it was discovered that North Carolina’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) had removed links and documents containing information about climate change from its website. North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory took office in 2013.
McCrory has changed his position slightly since his 2008 comments on climate change (“It’s in God’s hands,” he said at the time), now admitting that he accepts the climate is changing, but still showing doubt on how much is human-caused.