Employees of the Department of Energy's (DOE) international climate office have allegedly been told not to use phrases related to climate change. The report coincides with President Donald Trump's executive order rescinding the majority of his predecessor's climate regulations. Agency officials have denied that climate change terminology has been outright banned.
On March 28, DOE staff tasked with helping coordinate international efforts to curb climate change were advised by their supervisor in both memos and briefings to no longer use words that acknowledge the scientific consensus that carbon emissions have an adverse impact on the climate, Politico reports.
The words that have been allegedly banned are "climate change," "emissions reduction," and the "Paris Agreement."
One source stated that senior officials had warned staff that using those words could prompt Secretary of Energy Rick Perry to have a "visceral reaction."
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DOE spokesperson Lindsey Geisler denied that the international climate office staff had been restricted from using any particular language.
"No words or phrases have been banned for this office or anyone in the department," Geisler said.
An anonymous State Department official added that acknowledging climate change had not been outright banned in their department but informally discouraged.
"We have definitely not received anything on banned words ... But people are doing a lot of reading into tea leaves," the State Department official said, according to Politico. "People are taking their own initiatives not to use certain words based on hints from transition people."
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On March 28, Trump signed an executive order reversing former President Barack Obama's climate directives as well as nixing the Clean Power Plan, an initiative to curb U.S. carbon emissions. The new executive action lifts regulations on coal, oil and gas, the Los Angeles Times reports.
"I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy to reverse government intrusions and to cancel job killing regulations," Trump said from the Oval Office.
The new directive will likely result in the U.S. not living up to its commitment to the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, an international pact for 194 participating countries to cut down on their carbon emissions.
Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California blasted the president for his executive order.
"Erasing climate change may take place in Donald Trump's mind, but nowhere else," Brown said.
The governor added that the Trump administration's approach to climate change would prompt an activist movement comprised "of people who will not stand by and let Donald Trump effectively tear up the Paris agreement and destroy America's climate leadership and jeopardize the health and well being of so many people."
Such a movement could begin with The March for Science, a demonstration slated to take place in Washington, D.C., on April 22. The event will be led by pediatrician Mona Hanna-Attisha, molecular biologist Lydia Villa-Komaroff,and science celebrity Bill Nye.
"People are denying the facts of science in the world's most influential economy," Nye told BuzzFeed News. "We're marching to remind everybody of how much science serves you, a person, as a citizen in our society."