It began immediately after Trump’s inauguration, with taking down any mention of President Obama’s climate change plan from the White House website. But the Orwellian effort to bury information from the people hasn’t stopped there.
On Monday, the new administration put restrictions on EPA employees “effective immediately” to cease any communications with the public. No press releases or social media posts. All requests from journalists to be “carefully screened.”
The gag order greeted EPA staff on the same day that Trump’s team placed a total freeze on EPA grants and contracts, customarily used to fund research science and for local cleanup efforts. No more testing of groundwater for contamination after a toxic spill. No more support for air and water quality monitoring.
Here’s what a fellow inside the Agency just had to say on Facebook: “So I work at the EPA and yeah it’s as bad as you are hearing: The entire agency is under lockdown, the website, facebook, twitter, you name it is static and can’t be updated. All reports, findings, permits and studies are frozen and not to be released. No presentations or meetings with outside groups are to be scheduled. Any Press contacting us are to be directed to the Press Office which is also silenced and will give no response. All grants and contracts are frozen from the contractors working on Superfund sites to grad school students working on their thesis. We are still doing our work, writing reports, doing cancer modeling for pesticides hoping that this is temporary and we will be able to serve the public soon. But many of us are worried about an ideologically-fueled purging and if you use any federal data I advise you gather what you can now. We have been told the website is being reworked to reflect the new administration’s policy. Feel free to copy and paste, you all pay for the government and you should know what’s going on. I am posting this as a fellow citizen and not in any sort of official capacity.”
As for climate change, according to the Reuters news agency, the administration is planning to remove the page epa.gov/climate, which links to the agency’s vast amount of climate data including peer-reviewed research and information on greenhouse gas emissions. The EPA’s voluntary climate-change programs have already vanished from the website. If it goes dark altogether, “years of work we have done on climate change will disappear,” according to an EPA staff person.
Other gag orders have reportedly been put on the science branches of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and on Health and Human Services.
A letter signed by twelve Democratic senators went to Trump on Wednesday. It read, in part: “Targeting the scientists at these agencies and prohibiting them from sharing the results of this research with the broader public is irresponsible and serves only to undermine the integrity and public trust in the federal government.”
Some employees within the government are already going rogue. After the National Park Service tweeted pictures of the small crowd at Trump’s inauguration, the new president placed a temporary suspension on its Twitter accounts. Now some anonymous individuals within the Park Service have set up an unofficial Twitter account that Trump can’t touch. The AltUSNatPark-Service has come out against Trump’s executive order to revive the Keystone XL pipeline, told followers to protest efforts to sell off federal lands, and encouraged a march of scientists on Washington.
An article in the Boston Globe today reports that several other Twitter accounts are taking on the president’s actions. The Badlands National Park defiantly posted messages about climate change, including one saying: “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years.” The National Park Service proceeded to delete the tweets a few hours later, claiming they were done by an ex-employee not authorized to use the account.
Another Twitter account, for the Redwood National and State Parks, messaged about the benefits of redwood groves for capturing carbon.
A call to arms is going out. There’s a new website, “Scientists’ March on Washington,” which says: “There are certain things that we accept as facts with no alternatives. The Earth is becoming warmer due to human action….Politicians who devalue expertise risk making decisions that do not reflect reality and must be held accountable. An American government that ignores science to pursue ideological agendas endangers the world.”
The march is still in the organizing stage, but the Facebook page now has 220,000 members and the Twitter account more than 112,000 followers. You can check out what’s happening at the links below:
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