Virginia’s environmental agency has taken down the Web page for the state’s Commission on Climate Change, which found that global warming poses a huge threat to the state.
With some effort, you can find the commission’s 2008 final report on a couple of state websites. But the commission’s full effort, including presentations and supporting documents, now has an online presence only on the site of a Norfolk environmental group, Wetlands Watch.
Wetlands Watch director Skip Stiles, who served on the now-defunct climate commission, said he believes Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell’s administration isn’t interested in climate change research.
“I think the issues that were deliberated by the climate commission were obviously not a priority with this administration,” Stiles said.
McDonnell officials said the Web page was pulled not for political reasons, but because few people used it. “It is not right to say that (climate change) is not an issue of concern to this administration,” said Doug Domenech, McDonnell’s secretary of natural resources.
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In 2007, then-Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, a Democrat, appointed the climate commission. In its 2008 report, the commission said, among other things, that global warming could spread disease in Virginia, push up sea levels that threaten coastal areas and imperil native animals such as crabs.
Bill Hayden, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Quality, said the commission’s Web page was taken down when the DEQ’s site was being revamped about a year ago. “It hadn’t been getting much traffic, and there didn’t seem to be any urgent desire to see that information, so we took it off and just left it off.”
Stiles, the environmentalist, said he noticed last spring that the page was sometimes available and sometimes not. With the help of some DEQ staff members, he got the data that enabled him and a helper to put the page, including most of the commission’s background materials, on a Wetlands Watch-affiliated website last summer.
Hayden said the DEQ will make a copy of the climate commission’s materials available if someone asks.
Kaine, now a U.S. senator, declined to comment.
The panel, which included more than 40 scientists, business people, lawmakers and environmentalists, unanimously adopted its report.