National Park's Tweets About Climate Change Start Controversy
Tweets sent from national agencies that appear to contradict President Trump’s agenda have been deleted since his inauguration last week. The administration has also issued media blackouts for federal scientific agencies.
Badlands National Park became something of an internet celebrity on Tuesday, when the park's Twitter messages about climate change were removed just hours after they were posted.
“Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate,” the park's account tweeted on Tuesday afternoon. Another tweet stated that the ocean’s acidity levels are at their highest point in history and that burning “one gallon of gasoline puts nearly 20lbs of carbon dioxide” into the atmosphere.
By that evening, the park’s four factual tweets were deleted.
The National Park Service said that the tweets were sent by a former park employee and that the account had been “compromised.” According to the agency, the tweets were not deleted for their content but rather because of who had sent them. The agency also said they were not ordered to remove the tweets.
Quartz reported that Badlands National Park was experiencing a blizzard and was shut down all day Tuesday; the park’s social media manager was working from home.
Earlier Tuesday, it was revealed that the Trump administration issued a media blackout of the Environmental Protection Agency. Employees are barred from issuing press releases, blog updates or social media posts until further notice.
On Monday, a similar notice was sent to scientists in the U.S. Department of Agriculture—a much less politically-charged group but one that, under the Obama administration, researched ways of reducing methane gas released by cows. A spokesperson for the agency told Buzzfeed that the halt pertained to “informational products like news releases and social media content” but not scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals.
“We're just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration,” the communications director for Trump’s EPA transitional team, Doug Ericksen, told the Associated Press. He said that he expects the ban to be lifted by the end of the week.
On the day of Trump’s inauguration, all Twitter accounts operated by a national park were suspended by order of the Department of the Interior. Earlier that day, the official National Park Service account retweeted one post comparing the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd to that of Obama’s and another post that pointed out that “climate change” was no longer listed among the White House's top priorities.
The tweets were removed and the NPS issued an apology on Saturday.
“We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you,” the NPS tweeted.
On the first day of his presidency, Trump signed an executive order meant to deconstruct Obama’s climate plan. The America First Energy Plan aims to lift “burdensome regulations on our energy industry” while “eliminating harmful and unnecessary policies such as the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule.”
Trump famously called climate change a Chinese-created hoax. He has also said that “no one really knows” if climate change is real.
On Tuesday, the Trump administration also stated that they also intend to move forward with building the Dakota Access and Keystone pipelines.
On Monday, the Department of Defense tweeted about mental health awareness but some suggested it was a subtweet aimed at the president’s social media presence.