epa controversy, environmental protection agency

In Newest EPA Controversy, Agency Tells Staff to Stay Quiet

July 29, 2008 04:21 PM
by Cara McDonough
In an internal e-mail, the agency told its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters or the agency’s own inspector general.

30-Second Summary

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility—a nonprofit group—obtained the e-mail and provided it to the Associated Press.

The e-mail, sent by Robbi Farrell, the Environmental Protection Agency’s chief of staff, instructs 11 managers in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance not to respond or make any statements if contacted by the Office of Inspector General or the Government Accountability Office.

Instead, Farrell writes, staff should forward the inquiries to a designated EPA representative.

In an official statement released Monday, the EPA said the e-mail was aimed at making the agency’s responses to inquiries “more efficient, consistent and coordinated.” But Democrats may see the incident as another instance of the Bush administration meddling in EPA affairs.

Earlier this month, a former EPA official said that Vice President Dick Cheney’s office pushed for major deletions in congressional testimony about the health effects of climate change.

Regarding the e-mail released this week, Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who heads the Senate environment committee, said that the Bush administration had turned “the EPA into a secretive, dangerous ally of polluters, instead of a leader in the effort to protect the health and safety of the American people.”

Headline Links: ‘EPA Tells Staff Don't Talk to Investigators, Press’

Background: Prior EPA controversies in 2008

Opinion & Analysis: EPA ‘at it again’


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