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Groups to EPA: Stop muzzling science advisers


WASHINGTON (AP) - Journalist and scientific organizations accused the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday of attempting to muzzle its independent scientific advisers by directing them to funnel all outside requests for information through agency officials.

In a letter Tuesday, groups representing journalists and scientists urged the EPA to allow advisory board members to talk directly to news reporters, Congress and other outside groups without first asking for permission from EPA officials. An April memo from the EPA's chief of staff said that "unsolicited contacts" need to be "appropriately managed" and that committee members should refrain from directly responding to requests about committees' efforts to advise the agency.

The scientific advisory board's office had asked the EPA to clarify the communications policy for board members, who are government employees.

"The new policy only reinforces any perception that the agency prioritizes message control over the ability of scientists who advise the agency to share their expertise with the public," the groups wrote.

The EPA relies on independent advisory boards to weigh complex scientific information and to advise the agency on policy, such as setting new standards for air pollutants. Recently, Republicans in Congress have been critical of the scientific advisory board overseeing the review of the ground-level ozone standard, saying it failed to evaluate the consequences of recommending a tougher limit.

The chair of that panel, H. Christopher Frey, said in an interview with the Associated Press Tuesday in which he stressed he was offering his personal opinion, that he found the tone of the EPA memo to be unnecessary.

Frey, a distinguished university professor in North Carolina State University's environmental engineering department, said that many of the scientists that serve on the committees are national and internationally-renowned experts and that EPA "need not be too strong in precluding interactions with the media or others."

For journalists, it's the latest skirmish involving transparency issues and the Obama administration. Last month, more than three dozen groups wrote to the White House about what they described as growing censorship throughout federal agencies. Last year, dozens of leading news organizations protested restrictions that sometimes keep journalists from taking pictures and video of President Barack Obama performing official duties and two press groups urged members to stop using official photos and video handed out by the White House, dismissing them as little more than "government propaganda."

An EPA spokeswoman said there are no constraints on members fielding requests in a personal or professional capacity. She said the memo was designed to assure transparency.

The groups signing the letter include the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of Environmental Journalists, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Society for Conservation Biology, American Geophysical Union and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Link to EPA memo: http://1.usa.gov/1q6QG7o

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TB August 12 2014 at 3:48 PM

Just another example of Pinocchio Obama'a Team Incompetence transparency.

Flag Reply +51 rate up
5 replies
Stryyder56 August 12 2014 at 4:20 PM

It is commonly called CONTROL. If you control the message, only what YOU want to get out, gets out. Everything else is pushed aside whether right or wrong. Just more of the liberal enlightenment mentality. Nothing new here...........the EPA is the new bully on the block.

Flag Reply +43 rate up
2 replies
silkroadg Stryyder56 August 12 2014 at 6:20 PM

Ah, correction........the new RELIGION on the block, but just WAIT until they go heads up with ISLAM the RELIGION OF PEACE!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
1 reply
ferrellfarmer silkroadg August 12 2014 at 10:16 PM

and yes you know those peace loving muslims just love to show how much thewy love there fellow man. THEY BLOW THEM UP no better way to say I love you than to blow people up true peace and love

Flag +3 rate up
smashingmonkey Stryyder56 August 13 2014 at 10:07 AM

Uh, . . what? How is it "liberal enlightenment mentality" to muzzle liberal scientists on the issue of climate change?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Angela9 August 12 2014 at 4:25 PM

Every agency under the obama administration does the "cover-ups" because this is the way they work. Cover-up the real truth is their motto!

Flag Reply +39 rate up
2 replies
spstevens58 Angela9 August 12 2014 at 7:38 PM

Anything that the media get a hold of is twisted, spun and nit picked for any appearance of impropriety from millions of conservatives, corporations, and lobby groups. If a corporation can keep their plans secret, and it is good idea to do so when you are in competition, then the agencies charged with policing those same business entities needs to have the same abilities as they do.

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4 replies
parthenon1 Angela9 August 13 2014 at 4:04 PM

So does my cat . . . but it ain't right

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mociambz August 12 2014 at 4:08 PM

just more lies the democrats can tell

Flag Reply +34 rate up
Poppi August 12 2014 at 3:56 PM

And we are suprised, why? This is the radical president's orders.

Flag Reply +31 rate up
phd August 12 2014 at 4:37 PM

Typical in the new "ObamaWorld" where critcism of the administration is forcibly shut down using regulations, stonewalling and outright lies. This new form of censorship should alarm everyone, but Obama's Teflon coating, applied by the media and directed by Valerie Jarret is apparently working. Sad.

Flag Reply +28 rate up
Noindex August 12 2014 at 4:39 PM

I'm sure there isn't even a smidgen of corruption within the EPA.

Flag Reply +25 rate up
coyotetom August 12 2014 at 4:03 PM

Incompetence is government's middle name.

Flag Reply +25 rate up
kitharris1 August 12 2014 at 4:46 PM

government control of the information it wants to give to the public. nice to see they think they have the right to censor it prior to release. but this fits in with following some laws and ignoring others, while continuing to push their own agenda for political purposes only! it's the new left wing agenda of obama and holder and now extends to all departments of government.

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2 replies
anteekazoid kitharris1 August 12 2014 at 9:18 PM

Apparently it hasn't occurred to you that the EPA is trying to stifle scientists who WANT MORE REGULATION and believe the EPA isn't doing enough. In this scenario, Conservatives and Teabillies all support the EPA with doing less as the country is fracked to hell and drinkable water becomes a rarity. But, blow on about the Left Wing.

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2 replies
patrick anteekazoid August 12 2014 at 10:19 PM

You liberal moron, wake up !!

Flag +3 rate up
scubaeqhp anteekazoid August 12 2014 at 11:51 PM

Got any evidence of this? Put up or shut up.

Flag +2 rate up
smashingmonkey kitharris1 August 13 2014 at 9:18 AM

It is Obama's agenda, but it is hardly left wing. I can't believe that after all this time people still believe the silly notion that Obama is a "liberal."

Flag Reply 0 rate up
fred August 12 2014 at 4:08 PM

The EPA doesn't know "come here" from "sic 'em".

Flag Reply +14 rate up
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