Environmental Agencies Ordered to Halt Outside Communication

The Trump administration has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other governmental agencies, like the Department of Agriculture and Department of Health and Human Services, not to speak to the press and not to post on social media outlets or blogs. Additionally, the administration has frozen federal grant spending at these same agencies, which is expected to have a significant impact on current environmental projects.

While some say these orders are simply procedure, others say that the President’s actions could be a mechanism to stop research on climate change and progress. “These actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies,” said Sam Adams, the United States director of the World Resources Institute, a Washington research organization. “This flies in the face of effective policy-making, which requires an open exchange of ideas, supported by the best science and evidence available.”

Furthermore, Doug Ericksen, the head of communication for the Trump administration’s EPA transition team, said that there is plan to institute a vetting process where member s of the EPA must have their work reviewed before making their findings public. This “would directly contradict the agency’s current scientific integrity policy, which was published in 2012. It prohibits ‘all EPA employees, including scientists, managers and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions.’”

Trump’s steps to limit the dissemination and access to information regarding hot-button environmental issues are alarming many environmental advocates. Andrew Light, the distinguished senior fellow in the Global Climate Program at the nonpartisan World Resources Institute, said “It’s certainly the case that every administration tries to control information, but I think that what we’re seeing here is much more sweeping than has ever been done before. And in particular, it’s noteworthy that it seems to be aimed at a cluster of science-driven agencies that primarily work on the environment and climate change.”

This comes during a devastating turn of events in which Trump signed an executive action to advance the constructions of the long embattled Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, fulfilling a campaign promise that leaves many environmental and indigenous rights activists concerned for the future.

Media Resources: Feminist Newswire 1/25; The Independent 1/24; National Public Radio 1/25; New York Times 1/25

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