South Bend joins a handful of cities in archiving EPA climate change data

Originally published by Marek Mazurek via South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — South Bend has joined cities around the country in publishing climate change data that was taken down from the Environmental Protection Agency's website by the Trump administration in late April.

On June 13, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced on social media that South Bend would store the data on its online servers.

“It’s an expressions of values,” Buttigieg said in a phone interview with The Tribune. “(Posting the data) lets us state as a community our belief that climate change is a real issue.”

The site can be found at climatechange.southbendin.gov and contains extensive data and other information about climate change, such as how the phenomenon has affected various parts of the country and what actions can reduce its effects.

Buttigieg said making information available is important in combating the effects of climate change.

“Information can’t be suppressed just because it’s inconvenient,” Buttigieg said.

The mayor said publishing the data is a small gesture, but one that speaks to the city’s commitment to the issue.

In late April, the EPA’s website on climate change was changed and now redirects users to ascreenwhich reads, “This page is being updated. … We are currently updating our website to reflect EPA’s priorities under the leadership of President Trump and Administrator (Scott) Pruitt.”

In a statement released on April 28, the EPA’s associate administrator for public affairs J.P. Freire said the changes to the website involve updating outdated language.

“EPA renews its commitment to human health and clean air, land, and water, our website needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency,” Freire said. “We want to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language first and making room to discuss how we’re protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law.”

The city of Chicago was the first to publish the archived climate change data on its website and published a separate website called "Climate Change is Real" on May 7, which provides the coding information and archived files for other cities and institutions to post the data, free of charge.

Beyond Chicago, other cities which have archived versions of the EPA data online including: Atlanta, Boston and Houston.

Buttigieg said he was first made aware of Chicago’s site when concerned residents wrote to him after Trump announced the United States' withdrawal from the Paris Agreement.

South Bend’s move to publish climate change information comes on the heels of Buttigieg’s decision to join the Mayor’s National Climate Action Agenda — a group of cities that pledge to lower greenhouse gas emissions and work on federal policies surrounding environmental protections.

South Bend joined the MNCAA on June 2, one day after Trump announced the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord.