Trump admin orders EPA contract freeze and media blackout
The Trump administration has instituted what it described as a temporary media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants.
E-mails sent to EPA staff since President Donald Trump's inauguration on Friday and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts.
The Trump administration has also ordered what it called a temporary suspension of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders were expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide.
Similar orders barring external communications have been issued by the Trump administration at other federal agencies in recent days, including the Agriculture and Interior departments.
Staffers in EPA's public affairs office are instructed to forward all inquiries from reporters to the Office of Administration and Resources Management.
"Incoming media requests will be carefully screened," one directive said. "Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press."
A review of EPA websites and social media accounts, which typically include numerous new posts each day, showed no new activity since Friday.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Tuesday he had no information on the blackout. He said aides were looking into the circumstances.
Doug Ericksen, the communications director for Trump's transition team at EPA, said he expects the communications ban to be lifted by the end of this week.
"We're just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration," Ericksen said.