Stabenow questions USDA on censorship of climate change
August 10, 2017
Senate Agriculture ranking member Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., on Tuesday asked Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to explain a news report that USDA staff had been told to remove the phrase "climate change" in the agency's communications and to change other language related to climate change issues.
In a letter, Stabenow asked Perdue to answer a series of questions by August 23.
"Censoring the agency's scientists and natural resource professionals as they try to communicate these risks and help producers adapt to a changing climate does a great disservice to the men and women who grow the food, fuel, and fiber that drive our economy, not to mention the agency's civil servants themselves," wrote Stabenow.
"This censorship makes the United States less competitive, less food secure, and puts our rural families and their communities at risk."
“Censoring the agency’s scientists and natural resource professionals as they try to communicate these risks and help producers adapt to a changing climate does a great disservice to the men and women who grow the food, fuel, and fiber that drive our economy, not to mention the agency’s civil servants themselves.” Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.
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Stabenow wrote the letter after a report in The Guardian said that emails revealed staff at USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service had listed terms to be avoided.
USDA spokesman Tim Murtaugh told Politico that "there has never been a directive to NRCS regarding the term 'climate change,'" and said it was unclear why the career officials behind the memos had raised the issue to staff
A spokesman for NRCS in an email to Politico backed Murtaugh's response.
"The Natural Resources Conservation Service has not received direction from USDA or the administration to modify its communications on climate change or any other topic," the spokesman said.
Meanwhile, Reuters published a cable in which the State Department told diplomats to sidestep questions about climate change.
–The Hagstrom Report