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National park tweets, then deletes, climate data after gag order

Climate change won't go away with a Twitter meltdown.
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Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

In the five days since he took office, President Trump has ordered multiple federal agencies to stop sharing news and updates directly with the American public. The gag orders have silenced federal entities like the EPA and the USDA by preventing them from announcing everything from grant awards to scientific breakthroughs made with taxpayer funds. But at least one person with the password to Badlands National Park's Twitter account attempted to take a stand today by tweeting out facts in the face of President Trump and his science-denying pick to lead the EPA.

"The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm," @BadlandsNPS wrote in a now-deleted tweet Tuesday morning. That tweet was in direct opposition to a memo issued to all National Park Service, ordering them to "immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice." But @BadlandsNPS kept at it for almost an hour before the tweets disappeared into the ether.

Although the facts have now been archived in screenshots and @BadlandsNPS has returned to posting idyllic nature photos, civil rights lawyer and Law professor Dr. Anthony M. Kreis noted on Twitter that deleting a government agency's tweets is actually a violation of the Freedom of Information Act. So, even though one national park sending off a few defiant tweets seems relatively minor, it could cause some legal headaches for the administration.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the gag orders may only be temporary, at least for some of the federal agencies affected, but they also may be in violation of directives issued by President Obama in 2009 which protect scientists' ability to speak with the people about publicly funded research. While it is currently unclear how this will play out for the nation's scientists, there's no getting around the fact that the planet is still getting hotter every year.

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