EPA silences employees
Key Excerpts from Article on Website of Los Angeles Times/Associated Press
Posted: July 31st, 2008
The Environmental Protection Agency is telling its pollution enforcement officials not to talk with congressional investigators, reporters and even the agency's own inspector general, according to an internal e-mail provided to The Associated Press. The June 16 message instructs 11 managers in the EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the branch of the agency charged with making sure environmental laws are followed, to remind their staff members to keep quiet. "If you are contacted directly by the IG's office or GAO requesting information of any kind . . . please do not respond to questions or make any statements," reads the e-mail sent by Robbi Farrell, the division's chief of staff. Instead, staff members should forward inquiries to a designated EPA representative, the memo says. Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility obtained the e-mail and provided it to the AP. The group is a nonprofit alliance of local, state and federal professionals. Jeff Ruch, its executive director, said ... the e-mail reinforces a "bunker mentality" within EPA under the Bush administration. "The clear intention behind this move is to chill the cubicles by suppressing any uncontrolled information." The Office of Inspector General said it did not approve of the language in the e-mail. "All EPA officials and employees are required to cooperate with OIG," the statement said. "This cooperation includes providing the OIG full and unrestricted access to EPA documents, records, and personnel."
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