EPA Staffers Told to Keep Quiet in Memo

Environmental experts suspect politically charged 'gag order'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 29, 2008 11:33 AM CDT
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., called for a probe after the administration refused to give up EPA documents, citing executive privilege.   (AP Photo/CBS)
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(Newser) – In what some officials fear is a sign of secrecy and political meddling, an email to Environmental Protection Agency staff asked that they not answer questions from journalists, the Government Accountability Office, or its own inspector general, CNN reports. In the email, which an environmental workers’ group called a “gag order,” EPA employees were told to direct questions to superiors.

Administrator Stephen Johnson is “turning the EPA into a secretive, dangerous ally of polluters, instead of a leader in the effort to protect the health and safety of the American people,” Sen. Barbara Boxer charged. The EPA’s press director said the memo was simply an effort to help the agency “efficiently respond to requests from the press, GAO, and EPA's inspector general.”