Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The New York Times is calling censorship, that EPA management has cancelled a trip by three staff scientists to speak at a climate conference. My question – why does the NYT think EPA staff scientists have the right to dictate how they spend their work hours?
E.P.A. Cancels Talk on Climate Change by Agency Scientists
By LISA FRIEDMANOCT. 22, 2017
WASHINGTON — The Environmental Protection Agency has canceled the speaking appearance of three agency scientists who were scheduled to discuss climate change at a conference on Monday in Rhode Island, according to the agency and several people involved.
John Konkus, an E.P.A. spokesman and a former Trump campaign operative in Florida, confirmed that agency scientists would not speak at the State of the Narragansett Bay and Watershed program in Providence. He provided no further explanation.
The move highlights widespread concern that the E.P.A. will silence government scientists from speaking publicly or conducting work on climate change. Scott Pruitt, the agency administrator, has said that he does not believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for the warming of the planet.
Mr. Munns confirmed that E.P.A. officials would not be participating in the meeting but did not explain why. Mr. Konkus, the agency spokesman, did not respond to questions about whether the conference’s focus on climate change was a factor in canceling the appearances.
He said in an email that E.P.A. scientists may attend the program, but not the morning news conference. He later clarified saying, “E.P.A. staff will not be formally presenting at either.”
Since August, all E.P.A. grant solicitations have gone through Mr. Konkus’s office for review, according to a directive first obtained by E & E News. Mr. Konkus served on President Trump’s campaign before he was appointed deputy associate administrator in E.P.A.’s Office of Public Affairs. At the time, agency officials said they were ensuring agency funding is in line with Mr. Pruitt’s priorities.
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is funded through the E.P.A.’s approximately $26 million National Estuary Program. It funds 28 state-based estuary programs and delivers about $600,000 annually to the Narragansett Bay program. Mr. Pruitt’s proposed budget for 2018 would eliminate the national program.
No doubt the three scientists affected by this decision will immediately resign their well paid government jobs in protest and speak at the conference as private citizens.