President Trump institutes “media blackout” at EPA; bars staff from awarding contracts, grants
President Donald Trump’s administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.
Emails sent to EPA staff since President Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20th and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed the specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.
President Trump’s administration has also ordered a “temporary suspension” of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders are expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide.
The EPA did not respond to phone calls and emails requesting comment Monday, January 23rd or Tuesday.
Meanwhile, an Agriculture Department research agency has banned the release of news releases, photos and other material to the public.
In a memo to employees at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, chief of staff Sharon Drumm said the agency would immediately cease releasing any “public-facing” documents.
“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” read the email memo obtained by The Associated Press.
A statement released by ARS spokesman Christopher Bentley said the agency “values and is committed to maintaining the free flow of information between our scientists and the American public as we strive to find solutions to agricultural problems affecting America.”
The statement said some material would still be available on the agency’s website.
Buzzfeed News first reported the memo.