Wednesday, August 09, 2017

USDA staff coached to say 'weather extremes' not 'climate change'; shift could impact rural issues

Jimmy Bramblett
(USDA photo)
Newly released emails among Department of Agriculture officials reveal that several emails from Trump-appointee Jimmy Bramblett, deputy chief of the agency's Natural Resources Conservation Service, asked USDA staff to change terminology in their reports to downplay climate change. One email "advised NRCS employees to avoid the term 'Climate Change' and to instead use 'Weather Extremes.' Instead of 'Climate Change Adaptation,' the recommended terms include 'Resilience to Weather Extremes.' Rather than 'reducing greenhouse gases,' the emails suggest: 'Build Soil Organic Matter, increase nutrient use efficiency,'" Rene Marsh and Gregory Wallace report for CNN. The NRCS "advises and assists farmers on topics ranging from finance to conservation."

The agency says the Trump administration did not request the language change, and that they don't plan to change how they operate, "just how we talk about it," an NRCS official told CNN. Another NRCS official noted that information on climate change remains on the NRCS website, but said that the changes in language reflect that the Trump administration does not view climate change as a priority. Head of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt has been famously critical of climate change, and Trump nominee Sam Clovis, who would fill a top post at USDA, has described climate change as "junk science" and "not proven," CNN reports.

A shift in the overall official (or unofficial) viewpoint on climate change could have repercussions for rural issues such as economic disparity, fishing, water supply, coal mining, power plant emissions, farming, tourism and more.

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