The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports that a senior EPA official has told managers that they shouldn’t answer questions from reporters, congressional investigators, or the agency’s inspector general – instead, they should direct them to a press officer. (The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has more details.)
Discouraging EPA employees from speaking with members of the media is nothing new, as the Union of Concerned Scientists reported after surveying hundreds of EPA scientists (see Chapter 4 of their report). But Congress and the Inspector General are supposed to be able to get information from federal agency employees. As revere pointed out last year, when the NIEHS tried to crack down on employees’ contact with Congress, “Under the law, federal employees have an absolute right to provide information to Congress and interfering with this right is itself illegal.” Evidently, EPA officials think it’s more important to control the message than to obey the law.