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Thursday, 31st July 2008

EPA Staff Ordered to Stonewall Investigators and Media

EPA Staff Ordered to Stonewall Investigators and Media
Source: Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is ordering its staff to “not respond to questions or make any statements” if contacted by congressional investigators, reporters or even by its own Office of Inspector General, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The order reinforces a growing bunker mentality within an EPA that is the subject of a growing number of probes into political interference with agency operations.

In a June 16, 2008 e-mail distributed throughout EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, managers were asked to “remind your staff” to comply with “these important procedures.” These procedures forbid staff from speaking with any reporters or representatives of the Government Accountability Office or the EPA Inspector General (IG). If contacted, EPA employees are not supposed to say anything but are to immediately refer the person to a designated public affairs official.

+ Read the gag order (PDF; 10 KB)
+ See the EPA rationale for the order (PDF; 9 KB)
+ View the IG report cited as the basis for the gag order (PDF; 254 KB)
+ Look at recent EPA history of gag orders
+ Compare the open “Fish Bowl” policy of the past



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