Quantcast

EPA Pulls Scientists From Talk on Climate Change, Highlighting Fears Agency Is 'Muzzling' Staff

Climate
Scott Pruitt. Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Ever since Scott Pruitt took the helm of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), he has worked to undo decades of hard-fought climate protections, denied that carbon dioxide is a "primary contributor" to climate change, and even removed mentions of the term "climate change" from agency websites.

Now, the agency has canceled the speaking appearances of three of its scientists to discuss the topic at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday, highlighting "widespread concern that the EPA will silence scientists from speaking publicly on climate change," the New York Times reported Sunday.


EPA research ecologist Autumn Oczkowski, EPA postdoctoral fellow Rose Martin and EPA consultant Emily Shumchenia were scheduled to speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed—a conference timed with the release of a 400-page report on the state of the watershed and estuary.

Oczkowski was due to give the keynote speech. Martin and Shumchenia were due to speak on a panel about the biological implications of climate change. The scientists also contributed substantial material to the report, which features findings on how climate change affects the area's air and water temperatures, precipitation, sea level and fish.

Tom Borden, program director for the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, confirmed that the EPA canceled the appearances and said that no other agency staff or affiliates will speak at the event.

"I was not really provided with a clear explanation," Borden said.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is one of 28 state-based estuary programs funded by the EPA. The agency provides about $600,000 annually to the Narragansett Bay program. Pruitt, however, plans to eliminate the national program in his 2018 proposed budget.

"It's definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at EPA," said John King, who also works on the program. "They don't believe in climate change, so I think what they're trying to do is stifle discussions of the impacts of climate change."

Jack Reed, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, also tweeted: "Muzzling #EPA scientists won't do anything to address #climatechange. We need well-informed policy & action."

But EPA spokesperson John Konkus wrote in an email to Washington Post that "EPA scientists are attending, they simply are not presenting, it is not an EPA conference."

The Post also reported that "at least one senior regional EPA official" will attend the event.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A Starbucks barista prepares a drink at a Starbucks Coffee Shop location in New York. Ramin Talaie / Corbis via Getty Images

By Cathy Cassata

Are you getting your fill of Starbucks' new Almondmilk Honey Flat White, Oatmilk Honey Latte, and Coconutmilk Latte, but wondering just how healthy they are?

Read More
Radiation warning sign at the Union Carbide uranium mill in Rifle, Colorado, in 1972. Credit: National Archives / Environmental Protection Agency, public domain

By Sharon Kelly

Back in April last year, the Trump administration's Environmental Protection Agency decided it was "not necessary" to update the rules for toxic waste from oil and gas wells. Torrents of wastewater flow daily from the nation's 1.5 million active oil and gas wells and the agency's own research has warned it may pose risks to the country's drinking water supplies.

Read More
Sponsored
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg takes part in a "Friday for Future" youth demonstration in a street of Davos on Jan. 24, 2020 on the sideline of the World Economic Forum annual meeting. FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin pretended not to know who Greta Thunberg is, and then he told her to get a degree in economics before giving world leaders advice, as The Guardian reported.

Read More
The Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite on the Suomi NPP satellite acquired this image of forest fire smoke hovering over North America on Aug. 15, 2018. NASA Earth Observatory

New York City isn't known for having the cleanest air, but researchers traced recent air pollution spikes there to two surprising sources — fires hundreds of miles away in Canada and the southeastern U.S.

Read More
If temperatures continue to rise, the world is at risk from global sea-level rise, which will flood many coastal cities as seen above in Bangladesh. NurPhoto / Contributor / Getty Images

The mounting climate emergency may spur the next global financial crisis and the world's central banks are woefully ill equipped to handle the consequences, according to a new book-length report by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), as S&P Global reported. Located in Basel, Switzerland, the BIS is an umbrella organization for the world's central banks.

Read More