Amid rumors (climate change site removal), denials (gag orders), and melting snowflakes (see social media), AP reports the Trump administration is mandating that EPA scientific studies and data must undergo review by political staff before being released to the public.
As NPR reported earlier, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency who want to publish or present their scientific findings likely will need to have their work reviewed on a "case by case basis" before it can be disseminated, according to a spokesman for the agency's transition team.
In an interview Tuesday evening with NPR, Doug Ericksen, the head of communications for the Trump administration's EPA transition team, said that during the transition period, he expects scientists will undergo an unspecified internal vetting process before sharing their work outside the agency.
"We'll take a look at what's happening so that the voice coming from the EPA is one that's going to reflect the new administration," Ericksen told NPR.
Ericksen did not say whether such a review process would become a permanent feature of Trump's EPA. "We're on Day 2 here. ... You've got to give us a few days to get our feet underneath us."
Any review would directly contradict the agency's current scientific integrity policy, which was published in 2012.
It prohibits "all EPA employees, including scientists, managers and other Agency leadership from suppressing, altering, or otherwise impeding the timely release of scientific findings or conclusions."
It's not abnormal for administrations to restrict access to government scientists. In 2013, a statement by the Society of Environmental Journalists called the EPA under former-President Obama "one of the most closed, opaque agencies to the press."
And now, as AP details, Ericksen, confirmed Wednesday the review also extends to content on the federal agency's website, including details of scientific evidence showing that the Earth's climate is warming and man-made carbon emissions are to blame.
Former EPA staffers said Wednesday the restrictions imposed under Trump far exceed the practices of past administrations.
Ericksen said no orders have been given to strip mention of climate change from www.epa.gov , saying no decisions have yet been made.
"Obviously with a new administration coming in, the transition time, we'll be taking a look at the web pages and the Facebook pages and everything else involved here at EPA."
Asked specifically about scientific data collected by agency scientists, such as routine monitoring of air and water pollution, Ericksen responded, "Everything is subject to review."
Ericksen said Tuesday that the agency was preparing to greenlight nearly all of the $3.9 billion in pending contracts that were under review. Ericksen said he could not immediately provide details about roughly $100 million in distributions that will remain frozen.