[Note: This item comes from friend Ed DeWath. DLH]
EPA Freezes Grants, Tells Employees Not To Talk About It, Sources Say
It’s unclear whether the freeze is temporary or indefinite.
By Kate Sheppard
Jan 23 2017
WASHINGTON ― The Environmental Protection Agency has frozen its grant programs, according to sources there.
EPA staff has been instructed to freeze all its grants ― an extensive program that includes funding for research, redevelopment of former industrial sites, air quality monitoring and education, among other things ― and told not to discuss this order with anyone outside the agency, according to a Hill source with knowledge of the situation.
An EPA staffer provided the information to the congressional office anonymously, fearing retaliation.
It’s unclear whether the freeze is indefinite or temporary as the agency transitions fully to the Trump administration; the Senate has not yet confirmed Trump’s pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. It’s also not clear the immediate impact the grant freeze would have on programs across the country, since EPA grants are distributed at varying intervals and frequency.
“I will say it’s pretty unusual for us to get these kinds of anonymous contacts from people at the agency, which makes me think it’s unusual,” said the Hill source.
Neither the Trump transition office nor the central press office at the EPA responded to a request for comment Monday.
The Huffington Post also received a message that was reportedly sent to staff Monday that seems to cover the current agency guidance on talking to the press in general, not just about the directive on grants. The memo states that the agency is imposing tight controls on external communication, including press releases, blog posts, social media and content on the agency website.
I just returned from a briefing for Communication Directors where the following information was provided. These restrictions are effective immediately and will remain in place until further direction is received from the new Administration’s Beach Team. Please review this material and share with all appropriate individuals in your organization. If anyone on your staff receives a press inquiry of any kind, it must be referred to me so I can coordinate with the appropriate individuals in OPA.
• No press releases will be going out to external audiences.
• No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
• No blog messages.
• The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward.
• Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
• Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
• No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
• List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.
I will provide updates to this information as soon as I receive it.