The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

On White House website, Obama climate priorities vanish, replaced by Trump’s focus on energy production

A plume of steam billows from the coal-fired Merrimack Station in Bow, N.H. (Jim Cole/AP)

The energy page on the new White House website, which went up within moments of Friday’s inauguration, reiterates the priorities President Trump voiced during the campaign, from focusing on “energy independence” to promising to scale back the reach of the Environmental Protection Agency.

It also seemed to remove any reference to combating climate change, a topic that had been featured prominently on the site under President Barack Obama. The page that once detailed the potential consequences of climate change and the Obama administration’s efforts to address it vanished just as Trump was sworn into office. Viewers were redirected to a broken link: “The requested page ‘/energy/climate-change’ could not be found.”

The Web site also blocked people from reading about several aspects of existing law. For example, the White House site that gives guidance about the National Environmental Policy Act tells readers “Sorry the page you’re looking for can’t be found.” The same goes for the White House web page of the Council on Environmental Quality. The Environmental Protection Agency’s page about NEPA remains online.

However, it appeared that the Obama White House’s climate action pages, like other pages from the prior administration, already had been saved through the National Archives.

The new White House website includes among the top issues of the Trump administration a page entitled, “An America First Energy Plan.”

Trump victory reverses U.S. energy and environmental priorities

The incoming administration vows to eliminate “harmful and unnecessary policies” such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the United States rule. The first represents a variety of efforts President Obama pursued to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and help arrest global warming. The second is an EPA action to protect not only the nation’s largest waterways but smaller tributaries that critics think should fall under the jurisdiction of states rather than the federal government.

A rollback of the controversial rule, adopted by the EPA in 2015, could actually end up benefiting some Trump-related businesses. For instance, Trump’s golf courses are part of associations that have lobbied against it, arguing that its potential regulations could hurt golf course business. The rule has been opposed by Republicans in general — including his nominee to head the agency, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt — and other industry groups.

The new White House site also says that Trump will “refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.” It says he will pursue “clean coal technology,” a reference to efforts to remove carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning plants and bury those emissions in the ground or use them for enhanced oil recovery. The Obama Energy Department has been funding a variety of carbon dioxide removal projects, though without nearby enhanced oil recovery projects, the technology is not economical.

At the same time, Trump’s White House site says the new administration will aim at “reviving America’s coal industry.”

Scientists are frantically copying U.S. climate data, fearing it might vanish under Trump

Like every president from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush has pledged, Trump says on the website that he will seek “energy independence from the OPEC cartel.”  The United States currently is a huge net importer of crude oil, though the single largest source of that oil is Canada.

The website also says the Trump administration will seek to “use the revenues from energy production to rebuild our roads, schools, bridges and public infrastructure.” It does not spell out any plans for doing that. Currently, the federal government’s gasoline tax goes to the highway trust fund, but the tax depends on the gallons burned by vehicles, not on the amount of oil and gas production. The government does collect royalties from production on federal lands or federal offshore areas, but those revenues go to the general Treasury.

Rosalind Helderman and Chris Mooney contributed to this report.