Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trump team 'scrubbing up' EPA climate-change site, restricting USDA and Interior communications

Screen grab from today of EPA site
While the Trump administration on Wednesday backed off its plan to remove climate-change information from the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, tighter restrictions are being placed on what can be published, Timothy Cama reports for The Hill. Trump spokesperson Doug Ericksen "said officials are reviewing all of the 'editorial' parts of the EPA’s website for possible changes." He told reporters, “We’re looking at scrubbing it up a bit, putting a little freshener on it, and getting it back up to the public. We’re taking a look at everything on there."

Ericksen said "scientific findings likely will need to have their work reviewed on a 'case by case basis'," Nathan Rott reports for NPR. "Any review 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'."

"It also would likely have a chilling effect on the agency's ability to conduct research on the environmental issues it is charged with regulating," Rott writes. "Ericksen did not say whether such a review process would become a permanent feature of Trump's EPA."

Trump recently ordered federal agencies "to clamp down on public communications, prohibiting agency officials from most external communications, including with reporters and through social media," Cama writes. "Agency leaders have also frozen most grant and contract payments, though some communication and payment restrictions are likely to be lifted in the coming days."

The EPA isn't the only agency to be muzzled, James Hohman reports for The Washington Post. Officials from the Agriculture Department received a memo instructing them "to clear any media communications with the secretary's office," Hohman writes. After the National Park Service Twitter account retweeted two items viewed as "unsympathetic" to President Trump, the Interior Department abruptly shutdown their official Twitter account. One of the Park Service retweets "referred to the size of the inauguration crowd on the Mall, while another addressed policies that were excised from the White House website after Trump’s swearing-in." The Interior Department has since reactivated its account.  

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