The EPA did not return a request for comment.
RELATED: Climate Change-Driven Extinction of Alpine Plant Species May Go Undetected
Beyond a FOIA violation, the student site shift could violate the Information Quality Act, according to Michael Burger, the executive director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. Citizens would have little recourse through the act if the EPA refused to restore the links, though. If the agency refused to do so, an appeal would be heard in front of a panel of three political appointees who would likely be sympathetic to the administration.
That all this is happening with the EPA’s site only raises the stakes for an administration that has struggled with transparency as well as climate science. While some changes are expected with any changing of the guard, the move to take down and edit the climate pages is disconcerting to climate and open government advocates.
“We always need the complete historical record available to us, so it can be referred to (whether it's now or in 100 years) to see what was happening at the time,” said Russ Kick, a writer who runs the Memory Hole, a site that tracks the disappearance of government information. “The more specific reason (to keep records) is that we need to maintain our access to facts and ideas, even if they fall out of political favor.”
RELATED: March for Science Gears Up Amid Debate Over Diversity
Both Pruitt and Trump have made comments denying the science of climate change. Taking the pages down for edits to better reflect their views raises concerns that science could be misrepresented.