The Trump administration has frozen all EPA grants and contracts. And they have banned employees from providing updates to reporters or on social media.
The latest Trump nightmare is what he’s doing to the Environmental Protection Agency.
The Trump administration has placed a freeze on all EPA grants and contracts. And EPA employees have been banned from talking to reporters or using social media to tell the public what is going on.
The EPA’s grant program includes things like funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, along with many others.
This move will have a major impact on both the EPA’s budget and their efforts.
Out of fear of retaliation, an EPA staffer sent an anonymous email to the congressional office. According to ProPublica the email said,
“The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”
BREAKING: Trump bans EPA employees from providing updates on social media or to reporters, bars awarding new contracts or grants.
— The Associated Press (@AP) January 24, 2017
The EPA internal memo states,
“I just returned from a briefing for Communication Directors where the following information was provided. These restrictions are effective immediately and will remain in place until further direction is received from the new Administration’s Beach Team. Please review this material and share with all appropriate individuals in your organization. If anyone on your staff receives a press inquiry of any kind, it must be referred to me so I can coordinate with the appropriate individuals in OPA.
- No press releases will be going out to external audiences.
- No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
- No blog messages.
- The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward.
- Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
- Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
- No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
- List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.
I will provide updates to this information as soon as I receive it.”
At this point it is unclear if the freeze will affect current contracts which are worth about $6.4 billion or just new grants and contracts. According to The Verge,
“In 2013, the EPA awarded $9.6 billion in grants and about $1.4 billion in contracts. Last year, the total budget was $8.6 billion, with the money for grants and contracts given to organizations at every level, from local nonprofits to state governments.”
And meanwhile Trump’s pick for EPA head is Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt who is a climate change denier and who has repeatedly sued the EPA.
No matter how you look at it, this move is alarming and a very bad omen for things to come.