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Trump orders EPA contract freeze, media blackout

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on a reporter during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington today. Spicer answered questions about the Dakota Pipeline, infrastructure, jobs and other topics.

WASHINGTON >> The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch.

Emails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

The Trump administration has also ordered what it called a temporary suspension of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders were expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide. EPA contracts with outside vendors for a wide array of services, from engineering and research science to janitorial supplies.

Similar orders barring external communications have been issued in recent days by the Trump administration at other federal agencies, including the Agriculture and Interior departments.

Staffers in EPA’s public affairs office are instructed to forward all inquiries from reporters to the Office of Administration and Resources Management.

“Incoming media requests will be carefully screened,” one directive said. “Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.”

A review of EPA websites and social media accounts, which typically include numerous new posts each day, showed no new activity since Friday.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said today he had no information on the blackout. He said aides were looking into the circumstances.

Doug Ericksen, the communications director for Trump’s transition team at EPA, said he expects the communications ban to be lifted by the end of this week.

“We’re just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration,” Ericksen said.

Beyond what was stated in the internal email, Ericksen clarified that the freeze on EPA contracts and grants won’t apply to pollution cleanup efforts or infrastructure construction activities.

Officials at state and local agencies that rely on EPA for funding said they were left in the dark, saying they had received no information from EPA about the freeze.

“We are actively seeking additional information so we can understand the impact of this action on our ability to administer critical programs,” said Alan Matheson, executive director of Utah Department of Environmental Quality.

The executive director for the advocacy group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, Jeff Ruch, said the orders go beyond what has occurred in prior presidential transitions.

“We’re watching the dark cloud of Mordor extend over federal service,” Ruch said today, referring to the evil kingdom in the epic fantasy “The Lord of the Rings.”

Ruch noted that key posts at EPA have not yet been filled with Republican appointees, including Trump’s nominee for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. That means there are not yet the new senior personnel in place to make key decisions.

Environmentalists said the orders were having a chilling effect on EPA staff, many of whom were suffering from low morale. Trump and Pruitt have both been frequent critics of the agency and have questioned the validity of climate science showing that the Earth is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.

Liz Perera, climate policy director for the Sierra Club, said Trump’s move to freeze all EPA communications and contracts should be “a major red flag for all Americans.”

“EPA was created to ensure that all Americans can enjoy clean air to breathe, clean water to drink and have their health protected from environmental and climate threats,” Perera said.

Some staff at the Agriculture Department also received orders not to release any documents to the public.

“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds and social media content,” read an email to staff at the agency’s Agricultural Research Service, which was obtained by the AP.

ARS spokesman Christopher Bentley said the ban would not include scientific publications released through peer-reviewed professional journals.

“As the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency, ARS 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,” Bentley said, according to a statement.

It was not immediately clear whether similar instructions were given to others within the department.

The AP reported over the weekend that staff at the Interior Department were temporarily ordered to stop making posts to its Twitter account. The prohibition came after the official account of the National Park Service, a bureau of the department, retweeted a pair of posts to its 315,000 followers that seemed to be a swipe at Trump on his initial day in office. The first was a photo that compared the crowd gathered on the National Mall for Trump with the much larger gathering that stood in the same spot eight years earlier for President Barack Obama’s swearing-in.

Trump later falsely claimed that more than 1 million people attended his inauguration, which Spicer insisted was the most watched in history.

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick and Darlene Superville in Washington and Dan Elliott in Denver contributed to this report.

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    • @ samidunn
      Please tell President Donald J. Trump to stop already! He’s doing too many right & good things for Americans in just a mere 4 days and not even counting pre-Inaugural accomplishments too!

      • AP knit picking again. President Trump signed Executive Order to stop all Federal hiring. A total freeze on all new hires. President Trump also restarted the Keystone and North Dakota Pipelines. Can you losers say JOB creation.

        • Yes, losers probably can’t say “job creation.” They definitely can’t spell things like “nitpicking.”

        • Reducing pollution restrictions for clean air and water does not create jobs, it creates more air and water pollution. Companies don’t want to pay for EPA regulations as they cut into the companies’ millions of dollars profits. If a company really needs an employee, it’ll hire an employee.

      • Yet you clowns keep whining. Madonna, Ashley Judd, Women’s March. All for what? What a circus the Democrats have become. President Trump signed Bills today that will create jobs(restart pipelines) and shrink(freeze Federal hiring) Government. And his cabinet taking shape, even with the Dems dragging their a–‘s on vetting process. Republicans had approved 10 of Obozos cabinet selections at this same time. You losers will NEVER get it.

        • Ashley Judd. While visiting her sister, country singer Wynonna Judd, at a treatment center in 2006, counselors suggested that the actress and political activist check herself in, too. So Ashley Judd did just that and spent 47 days in a Texas treatment facility for depression and emotional problems.

    • Yeah, now who’s going to stand up for this planet? I guess Trump will now say he has a grand plan to terraform Mars to make Mars great again and move everyone there after he finishes destroying this planet.

        • Atmospheric CO2 is at the highest % in 650,000 years.

          There seems to be a pattern of oversimplifying to schoolyard level discussion. Republicans want their kids and grandkids to be able to live good lives too.

    • Yes Allie he is starting to follow the lead of his idol and mentor Putin. What really looks bad is that his press secretary is caught with his pants down by not knowing anything about it. What the idio- needs to learn really fast is this is not Russia where people cannot have mass protests that will surely continue as he continues his absurd antics.

        • vector, obama sold our country. and if you call the last 8 year a democracy, put on your seatbelt!

        • Ashley Judd. While visiting her sister, country singer Wynonna Judd, at a treatment center in 2006, counselors suggested that the actress and political activist check herself in, too. So Ashley Judd did just that and spent 47 days in a Texas treatment facility for depression and emotional problems.

      • Trump wants to gut the EPA and Interior Department, so the oil, gas, and shale companies can drill anywhere, on-shore, offshore, and in conservation areas, and the XL pipeline and the Dakota Access Pipeline do not have to go through any Environmental reviews, and those projects can be ram rodded through the Interior Department. Trump has a lot of shares in Exxon Mobil and other gas and oil companies. Exxon Mobil also has a big oil business in Putin’s Russia. Trump is doing all this to enrich himself, his Wall Street Goldman Sachs nominees, Exxon Mobil, the other oil giants in US, Putin and the Russian oil company Rosneft

        • No, Trump wants to correct 8 years of destruction from Emperor Dumbo and his tin hats who have no clue about balanced energy policy and future growth of America

        • Fed at the MSM slop trough a little too much now did we vector. Spoken like a true brain washed Demmie. No hope for you.

        • Actor, you should lead, follow or get out of the way. You are just stinking up the air is all you do.

    • its only a temp hold until they agree on direction – come on – not every move is bad
      if Obama did this youd be applauding it –
      think of banking and Obama – wasn’t he about the same way – give him a chance

    • A real executive probably looks strange to you. He’s getting control over his assets and sorting out what they will be doing. They won’t all be running in different directions and in opposite directions from him. That’s what executives do; and this, after all, is the Executive Branch of Government. Tax payers have hired a real executive, not a community organizer. We don’t expect “leaks” from all the agencies to be the normal manner of communication and we don’t expect snot-nosed millenniums to be setting the government’s policies and telling the media what they think the policies should be. You may not like it; but its called getting organized.

      • He wasn’t hired. He was elected and the president doesn’t have full control of the country. Government is the people’s domain and not one of his private businesses where he can do as he pleases. He keeps on fu–in- around and he’s going find out like how Nixon did.

        • “The president doesn’t have full control of the country”, didn’t see you around to tell obozo that kaka. Wea you been the last 8 years?

      • Trump is not an executive; he’s a salesman. One of the first rules in corporate business is: You don’t put a salesman in charge of the company!

        Yes, a good salesperson is a valuable asset for the company. They deserve all the commissions they get. But if you reward them with a corner office and the key to the executive restroom, you will regret it. What makes them a success at sales does not translate to knowing how to coordinate different departments and nurturing relationships.

        What don’t you understand about that?

        He won the election because there’s a large minority of the public who haven’t studied or observed organizational behavior and who are prone to being influenced by unsubstantiated “alternative facts” (fake news). The Russians’ deliberate meddling and FBI director James Comey’s misjudgments did the rest.

      • Agree with denominator…Trump is doing what Obama failed miserably at…its called management (look at Obama scandals, Veterans administration to name a few). All he is really doing is getting a rogue department aligned to the new boss.

        • No the real “fascism/Autocracy” was from Odumbo who violated the Constitution and passed laws and rules without the Congress just to advance his Socialist agenda!

    • This the beginning of a total assault upon the freedom of speech and the press, upon our First Amendment embodied in the Constitution. They did this in Nazi Germany. Trump and his administration is taking over our country with a right wing fascist neo-Nazi conspiracy and coup

      • How true Vector and this is good. The Chumps actions are defiant of the oath that he was sworn to do. To protect and enforce the constitution of the United States period. To do anything detrimental to our country is in my opinion treason and he will be held accountable for that. His unpopularity is not only within our country but worldwide. The Chumps presidency is a joke and only true idio-s will think otherwise.

        • Seems like the jokes on you guys Kaka. “detrimental to our country” Obozo released Guantanamo terrorist who came back and killed Americans. Wea you was den Kaka?

  • Trumpers: Only Dear Trump speaks the truth. The media lies!!! They lie, I say. Global warming is all a lie concocted by the led wing liberals to make up an agency just so they can spend, spend, spend.

  • Trumpers: Only Dear Trump speaks the truth. The media lies!!! They lie, I say. Global warming is all a lie concocted by the left wing liberals to make up an agency just so they can spend, spend, spend.

    • Coldest winter in many decades all across the world! Thanks to “D”ummies writing those “global warming” donation checks to keep the government air conditioners blowing cold air to keep the planet cold!

        • Trump Hires His Own Audience To Applaud
          Liberals are embarrassing themselves. It is pretty clear for liberals the presidential election is like voting for the prom queen and king in high school. It is just a popularity contest that idolizes the “in-crowd.” That sort of contest attracts the kind of people for whom that matters like hollywood nit wits, outsiders who want to think they are cool if the vote liberal, and other assorted light weights. Liberals only attack Trump on his “coolness.” Which is why they bring up fake news that Trump has to pay for an audience. Or Soros sponsored woman’s protests to the tune of $90 million. More fake news. What a waste of time and what an embarrassing place to be. No path forward for the liberals, just groveling in the mud.

          On the other hand Trump is moving out with his plans that will make real improvements in the lives of every day Americans. Medical costs will drop saving middle class Americans several thousand dollars a year. Taxes will drop saving middle class families $5k to $10k / year. New jobs will show up providing higher income. Full time jobs with company sponsored insurance. These savings will be put right back into the economy. This will be a real jolt in the right direction. The liberals stuck on voting for their prom queen and king will benefit as well and realize they need to pay more attention to real issues. Democrats are doomed.”

        • My friends and I who were in the Women’s March received no payments from George Soros. You are making up “Alternate News, and Alternate Facts”

        • Hey corporal it looks like the Chumps history is even if you do a good job you might necessarily get paid. He has been saying lately that to the victor goes the spoils and that is imprinted in his DNA. That along with racism, hatred, self pity and denial is the basis for the Chumps foundation.

      • Global warming has been happening since the beginning of the Industrial Age when fossil fuels were used for energy. The last couple years have seen record global temperature rises and the increasing temperatures are accelerating. The ice caps are rapidly melting. Global warming has brought about drought conditions and famines to large portions of the planet. Extreme weather events like hurricanes and powerful storms, cyclones are intensifying and become more frequent, breaking previous records.
        Trump wants to gut the EPA and Interior Department, so the oil and gas companies have free rein to drill everywhere, on land, off-shore, and pipe everywhere, the XL Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline, on conservation lands. Without the EPA, the polluting, global warming, fossil fuel companies can drill, refine, pipe and sell more oil and make Trillions of dollars and become more powerful within our government.

        • typical liberal fairy story vector just go look up the vostoc ice core samples that scientist are doing, the ones that have a higher degree than these phd global warming nuts and hopefully you will learn something by reading it instead of listening to these liberal mental disorder left wing nuts.

  • Sean Spicer has jumped into a very volatile situation. He’ll have to deal daily with respinning Trump’s non-normal comments and actions. He’s no Kellyanne Conway. I say either the frustration gets to him or some major PR fiasco sends him packing by the end of the year.

    Even Kellyanne Conway isn’t immune to an occasional slip. “Alternative facts” is pretty funny, haha!

        • Also Spicer looked a little chubbier today. Too much pizza and beer to ward off the stress.

        • Take a good look at the Chumps inner core lately. Pence’s grimace is beginning to look permanent. Rence’s anxiety level appears to be ready to go through the roof. Bannon looks like he’s drunk all the time with his reddened nose and cheeks. Poor Kelly Ann looks as if she cries herself to sleep every night. They all have that look of gloom and despair as if doomsday is right around the corner. Fu–i-g scary.

      • Wow. If I wrote that in law school, my evidence professor would have flunked me! A fact is NOT subject to “another point of view.” You’re confusing a fact with an interpretation.

      • You might want to check in with Fox and other medias. It looks like they all don’t like “alternative facts”. It was funny when Chuck Todd almost choked when Conway mentioned “alternative facts”. If you feel it’s just another point of view then it is ok. Just know that the majority of people don’t think of it that way.

        • She sure put Chuck Turd in his place. “Chuckie don’t be so dramatic” His show to be renamed Meet The Crickets.

      • After the EPA and officials and their contract workers accidentally spilled 3 million gallons of pent-up toxic sludge on August 5 from a defunct mine in San Juan County that hadn’t operated since 1923, EPA apparatchiks delayed notifying residents for more than 24 hours. They vastly underestimated the volume and spill rate of gunk. Then, while refusing to release data, EPA head Gina McCarthy flew to the glowing river to fecklessly declare that the water “seems to be restoring itself.” The cleanup costs for the Colorado spill alone are estimated at $30 billion

        Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/422719/environmental-protection-agency-out-of-control-bureaucracy

        • http://instituteforenergyresearch.org/analysis/obamas-science-article-long-symbolism-short-substance/
          “So, in a nutshell, President Obama is making Americans pay more for energy and automobiles without any real net benefit just so that the Paris Agreement can become part of his legacy.

          Reading President Obama’s piece in Science shows why there has been so much pushback against his policies. Despite his claims, economic growth has been very weak on his watch, and there are precious few benefits from the climate action he promotes according to the IPCC’s own models. But thank goodness President Obama, along with others, claim that there is “irreversible momentum of clean energy.” We are sure that this means that President Obama and others will support our call for the ending of all subsidies for energy including the wind PTC and solar ITC. After all, you don’t need to subsidize the irreversible.”

        • The EPA has been protecting the air, water, the soil, the rivers, and the oceans, so you do not become poisoned by the water you drink, the food you eat and sick from the air you breath. Wake up!

        • No vector, they have been advancing a tin foil hat view of the planet with a concept of “everyone should live in the Forest with unicorns and vegan lions” Stop drinking the cool-aid!

  • Its about time someone stood up to this out of control, and heavily burdensome organization. Mahalo Mr. Trump. And if it was a media blackout, how did we hear about it?

  • The Chump is seriously underestimating the power of the people in the United States. It will be his downfall because his opposition will steamroll as he continues to ignore his promise of a transparent government. The only wall that he will be building is around his swamp so nobody can see in.

      • Don’t mention “God” within earshot of Donald. He’ll start thinking he is one.

        It’s time to address an issue people probably have been wondering about: Narcissistic personality disorder. LINK:
        http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20025568

        The are clear signs…

        Excessive but unrealistic concern about his appearance (weird hair job).

        Neglecting responsibilities while confronting those who don’t show him the respect he feels he deserves (Twitter battles at 3 am).

        Blocking reality, making up (alternative) facts to conform to the delusional world view he created (seeing “more than a million people” instead of a half-empty lawn at his inauguration speech).

        Needing to rewrite history so his legacy of “greatness” will be preserved for all to appreciate (out of nowhere bringing up at dinner with Congress last night a new conspiracy theory that “millions” of illegal immigrants voted for Hillary, thus depriving him of the popular vote).

        When Trump kept making it a point to bring up his hand size and reassure people of his manhood, it brought to mind a story about Fidel Castro when he was a boy. When a local newspaper wrote a little article about Fidel’s soccer team, he walked several miles to demand an apology because they’d misspelled his name. And then he grew up to be a dictator—or as Trump would put it, “a strong leader “

  • Hey GOP Congresscritters! Gee, for the last eight years you’ve been bellyachin’ about how Executive Orders stomp on the toes of the Legislative Branch! So why in tarnation didya nominate an Imperial President?

    You think Obama wasn’t consultative enough? Hoo boy. You’ve dealt yourselves right out of the poker game. Too bad, so sad!

  • It sounds like Trump’s order is a clamp down on EPA activities, but it’s actually a slow down on processing business developments that require U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval. The end result is businesses will suffer, because without EPA approval, the businesses won’t be able to proceed with building projects.The laws governing environmental review cannot be changed without an act of Congress. Also, Trump can’t black out media coverage. By law, the U.S. government is required to release public information about its decisions on environmental issues through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Trump would be in violation of federal law if he purposely stymied the flow of public information in his agencies in violation of FOIA, and his administration and the individuals could be sued.

    • all a part of supreme leader Trump & his dynasty’s plan to sell more Trump premium bottled water. bottled “breathable” air will be coming soon to a Trump resort & golf course near U!
      Прощай

    • How is he getting things done when today’s news headline is that the Chump is still sticking to his claim that there were 3-5 million illegal voters in the elections. He has his staff so busy with damage control that they can’t do the more impor tant things that idi-t should be concentrating on.

  • The new guy is working and it’s only been a few days. Doing good or bad we have yet to see. Eight years ago after a 100 days people were already disappointed by someone who expected to do great with some positive actions. We waited and waited and surprisingly and unexpectedly a noble prize was given. Most were clueless for the reason why it was awarded. Eight years later the world introduction to the aloha spirit was well received but the positive actions to make America great has not done well. Hence, we now have someone who can do well or not . These past few days have shown a man not easily intimidated and without doubt a decisive person! Good or not, time will tell!

    • Wizard do you call arguing about manini kind stuff working. He is the POTUS and should act like a leader. He is not even capable of restraining his emotions. By your comments you seem to be a sensitive and responsible person. My question to you is how can you have confidence in a person who acts and behaves so immaturely. He is like a horse that cannot be broken. His disregard for decency,respect and the truth is reprehensible.

  • Trump is like the Governor of the State of Hawaii and so was Obama. Today they are more like dictators because they do not go to Congress for input or approval. Trump is almost like Obama in clashing with Congress– Democrats won’t agree with him and neither will Republicans (Republicans are raising stink over Trump’s action on NAFTA and TPP which hurt businesses which heavily lobby congress and Congress had zero input. Get used to it. Congress is like the City Councel or the legislature– they are no longer a big part of the process. Once Trump gets his Supreme Court, Congress and his fellow REpublicans can only watch.

  • Thank God President Trump is reigning in the EPA. Yes we need clean water and air, but the EPA went way beyond that to the point of over regulation. Reasonable minds are needed badly here, and the president is the cure. Thank you President Trump. Drain the swamp!

    • Not really. Obama and others ran over the EPA. Look at all the fracking and offshore drilling Obama approved, and he blocked regulations which would have stopped fracking. Obama is no environmentalist– we had the largest increase in oil production during Obama’s presidency than any other president. So if you thought Obama was bad, you can imagine what will happen with a guy running the agency who wanted to gut it. We are going to swing back to more air and water pollution because the EPA will not there to enforce it– and with the cuts during Obama’s reign, they were not really there anyway. Example is the water issue in Flint Michigan.

  • the reason why trump is doing this is to find out if were spending to much of tax payers money on some fruitless stuff like maybe EPA leaders pocketing money to give themselves a raise or there spending money on pork barrel stuff that has nothing to do with EPA studies, lets just wait if they cut some taxpayers money towards the EPA that’s fine why waste money on do nothing stuff.

  • About time.
    No more earth porn. No more photos or stories of lefties tree hugging.
    I find it offensive to see lefties molesting and inappropriately touching innocent trees.

  • EPA did a good job of reducing environmental and health concerns with the CWA, CAA, SDWA, RCRA, etc. laws and regulations in the 1980s and expansion in the 90s. However in general their reach has extended too far causing tons of unnecessary paperwork, collection of useless data, and preparation of reports that sit on their shelves. No question we need environmental laws and regulations. But they’ve strayed from the main purpose of their organization and sought out political endeavors instead. A timeout is much needed for EPA to refocus to their core mission. Actually it’ll also be super productive if the IRS would clean up and simplify the tax code.

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