Quantcast

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public outcry from its gag order barring researchers from using media materials to explain science to the public, rescinded the order for its research arm Tuesday evening.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

Tinnakorn Jorruang / iStock / Getty Images

By Dan Nosowitz

The budding research on cannabidiol, or CBD, attracts a great deal of interest in the agricultural field.

Read More Show Less
Oksana Khodakovskaia / iStock / Getty Images

By Jillian Kubala, MS, RD

The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a tree native to China that's prized for its sweet, citrus-like fruit.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) released new numbers that show vaping-related lung illnesses are continuing to grow across the country, as the number of fatalities has climbed to 33 and hospitalizations have reached 1,479 cases, according to a CDC update.

Read More Show Less
During the summer, the Arctic tundra is usually a thriving habitat for mammals such as the Arctic fox. Education Images / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Reports of extreme snowfall in the Arctic might seem encouraging, given that the region is rapidly warming due to human-driven climate change. According to a new study, however, the snow could actually pose a major threat to the normal reproductive cycles of Arctic wildlife.

Read More Show Less
Vegan rice and garbanzo beans meals. Ella Olsson / Pexels

By Alina Petre, MS, RD (CA)

One common concern about vegan diets is whether they provide your body with all the vitamins and minerals it needs.

Many claim that a whole-food, plant-based diet easily meets all the daily nutrient requirements.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A fracking well looms over a residential area of Liberty, Colorado on Aug. 19. WildEarth Guardians / Flickr

A new multiyear study found that people living or working within 2,000 feet, or nearly half a mile, of a hydraulic fracturing (fracking) drill site may be at a heightened risk of exposure to benzene and other toxic chemicals, according to research released Thursday by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE)

Read More Show Less
Pope Francis flanked by representatives of the Amazon Rainforest's ethnic groups and catholic prelates march in procession during the opening of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon Region at The Vatican on Oct. 07 in Vatican City, Vatican. Alessandra Benedetti / Corbis News / Getty Images

By Vincent J. Miller

The Catholic Church "hears the cry" of the Amazon and its peoples. That's the message Pope Francis hopes to send at the Synod of the Amazon, a three-week meeting at the Vatican that ends Oct. 27.

Read More Show Less

The crowd appears to attack a protestor in a video shared on Twitter by ITV journalist Mahatir Pasha. VOA News / Youtube screenshot

Some London commuters had a violent reaction Thursday morning when Extinction Rebellion protestors attempted to disrupt train service during rush hour.

Read More Show Less