This is What the EPA Gag Order Really Means

The Trump administration has made clear moves to inhibit the effectiveness of the Environmental Protection Agency. The extent to which these decisions will prove dangerous to public health and safety is still in the air as decisions are made. President Trump’s choice in Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to lead the EPA could prove indicative to the administration’s ultimate goals.

Fears that both scientists and environmentalists had hoped were irrational may well become reality amidst the ongoing catalog of Trump administrative proposals.

Some of these proposals are the Trump administration’s decision to closely scrutinize studies and data from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), as well as a forced gag order blocking communication between EPA scientists and the public and press.

Other federal agencies were also instructed to halt external communications.

For a brief time, the EPA was under “temporary freeze,” which the Trump administration has since lifted, regarding $4 billion in funding for grants, including revolving grants to states and Native American tribes.

However, the administrative review of existing content on the EPA’s website — including details of scientific evidence of climate change and man-made carbon emissions — still stands, according to the communications director for President Trump’s transition team at the EPA, Doug Ericksen, in statements to The Associated Press.

Ericksen clarified in his explanation that the Trump administration is not mandating that any studies or data from EPA scientists undergo review by political appointees before public release, but rather that existing scientific information on the EPA website is under review by members of the Trump administration transition team. Ericksen has also said that no decisions were made on the removal of the term climate change from, though mentions of the term are gone from the White House official website.

Doug Ericksen. (Credit: Source.)

Despite the overt removal of the term climate change, the full contents of the Obama administration’s White House and State Department websites, which include links to climate change reports, are archived and available to the public thanks to scientists who worked frantically to safeguard the data.

Former EPA staffers under both Republican and Democratic presidents said President Trump’s administrative restrictions greatly surpass the practices of past administrations.

In an interview with the AP several weeks ago, Ericksen explained, “We’re taking a look at everything on a case-by-case basis, including the web page and whether climate stuff will be taken down.” He also noted that, “Everything is subject to review,” when asked specifically about the collection of scientific data by agency scientists, such as the standard monitoring of air and water pollution.

Is the Trump Administration Impeding The EPA’s Purpose?

The EPA is the federal agency responsible for the protection of human health and the environment, according to the agency’s own mission statement.

Some major goals of the agency are to “ensure that all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work,” as well as “ensure that national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information.”

Based on both the mission statement and the two aforementioned goals of the EPA, the Trump administrative proposals infringe upon the EPA’s operations in several ways. For one, a presidential administration’s scrutiny of scientifically-backed and peer-reviewed information politicizes science and fact.

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