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Here’s How the Department of Energy Is Censoring Science That Doesn’t Support Its Message

Fears about what will become of scientific investigation under the Trump administration is nothing new, but a report from the Department of Energy yesterday seemingly confirmed those fears, followed by some full-blown climate change censorship.

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The DOE report on our country’s electrical grid conveniently came to exactly the conclusion you’d expect to hear from the Trump administration: We need coal and nuclear power plants to keep the grid stable, despite advances is renewables and natural gas. However, a draft of the report leaked weeks ago by career DOE employees, before the more politically inclined ones could get their fingerprints all over it, tells a much different story.

A comparison between the draft of the report and the final version shows that some coal and nuclear-friendly language was added in places, despite not really being supported by the findings still published in the final report. We can only wonder if more drastic changes would’ve been made had the draft not been leaked.

The draft version found that cheap natural gas was the main cause of decline in coal plants, rather than renewable energy sources and government subsidies that foster their growth. The final report pointed vaguely blamed those subsidies for tipping the energy market too much in one direction. Similarly, recommendations were added that coal and nuclear plants be shored up in order to save power grid reliability, while the report’s actual data showed no reliability problem in need of solving.

Really, the report found that there’s no energy-based need to save coal and nuclear plants, and the added political talking points skirted the one real reason to keep nuclear power around: climate change. That comes as no great surprise considering Trump’s past claims that climate change is made up, as well as reports that the current DOE has banned the term altogether, for political reasons.

In case there were any doubts about that, a DOE grant recipient, just yesterday, posted an email that asked her to remove the terms “climate change” and “global warming” from the abstract (basically the summary) of a report, in addition to future reports:

Just like with the grid report, they’re trying to control the public’s understanding of scientific findings by changing how they’re portrayed, if they can’t change the actual science. Keeping things on message is nothing new in politics, but climate change is not an issue we can afford to downplay for political points.

(image: Xenja Santarelli on Flickr)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct <em>Geekosystem</em> (RIP), and then at <em>The Mary Sue</em> starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at <em>Smash Bros.</em>

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