Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Federal Agencies Barred From Speaking to Press, Posting on Social Media

Popular

Staffers at several federal agencies dealing with scientific data and environmental policy—including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture, National Park Service, Department of Transportation and Health and Human Services—have reportedly received various degrees of formal instruction barring them from speaking to press or using social media.

While some officials say the policies are temporary and meant to help ease the transition, other employees worry that the breadth of the crackdown is unique and may hint at a heavy hand from the new administration regarding scientific data.

"These actions will stem the free flow of information and have a chilling effect on staff in these agencies," Sam Adams, U.S. director of the World Resources Institute, said. "This flies in the face of effective policymaking which requires an open exchange of ideas, supported by the best science and evidence available. Curtailing communications from these agencies will hinder their ability to provide clean air and water and protect people's health across the country. The administration should lift these bans as soon as possible and ensure that the role of science is respected within our government agencies."

Enforcement of these gag orders seems to vary by agency. After the Twitter handle for the Badlands National Park went rogue and sent out several climate change-related facts Tuesday afternoon, the tweets were ominously deleted, with the park blaming a former employee without "authorization" to use the account.

However, the USDA, following public outcry from its gag order barring researchers from using media materials to explain science to the public, rescinded the order for its research arm Tuesday evening. Worth watching: Wilbur Ross, Trump's nominee for Commerce who would oversee NOAA, stated in a letter Monday night he would not "keep peer reviewed research from the public."

For a deeper dive:

General agencies: Reuters, Politico, Politico Pro, Huffington Post, USA Today, Mashable, The Hill, Fortune, The Verge, The Root

Badlands tweets: Washington Post, AP, Politico, The Hill, New York Magazine

USDA: Buzzfeed, Reuters

NOAA: Washington Post, CNN, Mashable, Politico

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, and sign up for daily Hot News.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Women walk from Santa Monica beach after a social media workout on the sand on May 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California. Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Independence Day weekend is a busy time for coastal communities as people flock to the beaches to soak up the sun during the summer holiday. This year is different. Some of the country's most popular beach destinations in Florida and California have decided to close their beaches to stop the surge in coronavirus cases.

Read More Show Less
Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans and others who suffer from PTSD. Flickr / CC by 2.0

By Arash Javanbakht

For some combat veterans, the Fourth of July is not a time to celebrate the independence of the country they love. Instead, the holiday is a terrifying ordeal. That's because the noise of fireworks – loud, sudden, and reminiscent of war – rocks their nervous system. Daily fireworks in many U.S. cities in recent weeks have no doubt been interfering with the sleep and peace of mind of thousands of veterans.

Read More Show Less
Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs. Mathias Appel / Flickr

Koala populations across parts of Australia are on track to become extinct before 2050 unless "urgent government intervention" occurs, warns a year-long inquiry into Australia's "most loved animal." The report published by the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) paints a "stark and depressing snapshot" of koalas in Australia's southeastern state.

Read More Show Less
NASA is advancing tools like this supercomputer model that created this simulation of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to better understand what will happen to Earth's climate if the land and ocean can no longer absorb nearly half of all climate-warming CO2 emissions. NASA/GSFC

By Jeff Berardelli

For the past year, some of the most up-to-date computer models from the world's top climate modeling groups have been "running hot" – projecting that global warming may be even more extreme than earlier thought. Data from some of the model runs has been confounding scientists because it challenges decades of consistent projections.

Read More Show Less
A child stands in what is left of his house in Utuado, Puerto Rico, which was almost completely destroyed by Hurricane Maria, on Oct. 12, 2017. U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer 1st Class Jon-Paul Rios. Flickr, CC by 2.0
By Mark Hertsgaard and Kyle Pope

To hear many journalists tell it, the spring of 2020 has brought a series of extraordinary revelations. Look at what the nation has learned: That our health-care system was not remotely up to the challenge of a deadly pandemic. That our economic safety net was largely nonexistent. That our vulnerability to disease and death was directly tied to our race and where we live. That our political leadership sowed misinformation that left people dead. That systemic racism and the killing of Black people by police is undiminished, despite decades of protest and so many Black lives lost.
Read More Show Less
President Trump's claim last September that Hurricane Dorian was headed for Alabama's gulf coast was quickly refuted by employees at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). An independent investigation found that NOAA's chief violated the agency's ethics when he backed Trump's warning and doctored map that used a Sharpie to alter the storm's path, as EcoWatch reported.
Read More Show Less

Trending

African bush elephants in the Makgadikgadi Pans Game Reserve in Botswana on Nov. 22, 2016. Michael Jansen / Flickr

More than 350 elephants have died in Botswana since May, and no one knows why.

Read More Show Less