EPA Gags Staff: ‘Do Not Respond To Questions’

An email released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) reveals that Environmental Protection Agency officials were directed on June 16 not to answer any questions from the press, the Inspector General, or the Congress’s investigative arm, the Government Accountability Office.

That same week, President Bush asserted executive privilege to block the Congressional investigation into White House interference with EPA decisions on global warming and smog regulations.

According to PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, “Inside the current EPA, candor has become the cardinal sin.” Furthermore, “while this directive is of questionable legality, an agency specialist risks discipline or even termination for disregarding a direct order.” The email, from Robbi Farrell, chief of staff in EPA’s enforcement office, was sent to managers in EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance with the repeated admonition for all staff:

Please do not respond to questions or make any statements.

The full text:

Gag order, June 16, 2008

Sen. Barbara Boxer, the California Democrat who heads the Senate environment committee, said that the administrator 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.”

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