Information Lockdown

Posted on 08 February 2017 by Ian Schrauth

Trump’s gag order on the EPA is just the inch before the mile

By: Sean E. Thomas
News Editor

 

President Donald Trump recently issued a public gag order on multiple government entities including the Environmental Protection Agency.

This action immediately sent many environmentalists and journalists, myself included, into an uproar with fears that the new President might be silencing the EPA to keep his administration’s attitude towards the environment and climate change, as well as policy changes surrounding their perspective on these issues, hidden from the media and the public.trump

Many defenders of Trump’s decision to silence these organizations cite the fact that other incoming presidents, and especially those taking over after an opposing political party, have taken the exact same action.

Proponents of Trump’s decision point out that gag orders of this nature allow the current administration to make sure that they are presenting a unified statement via multiple media outlets such as department web sites and Twitter pages.

If that is the case, and this is par for the course, why then do we have employees of these agencies boldly speaking out, in lieu of and against this gag order? During the same week that Trump signed executive orders greenlighting both the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines, which had been shut down or stalled by the Obama Administration, and which Trump may have a personal financial interest in, it is clear to me why some might find an EPA gag order unsettling.

“Any public information lockdown is an affront to both the spirit of the Freedom of Information Act and the public trust,” President of the Society of Environmental Journalists Bobby Magill told The New York Times on Jan. 27. “The public is entitled to accurate information about polluters and how the government is enforcing environmental laws.” On Jan. 25, The New York Times reported that scientists have said that even though “no climate or other scientific data has been deleted from government websites,” they remain fearful that it could be.

Could this be the inch before the mile? One of many inches Trump seems to have measured out over the last couple of weeks.

There is some concern that this might be an attempt by the Trump Administration to push forward decisions or policy concerning projects such as the Dakota Access Pipeline before the public can have a chance to mount a response or organize any opposition.

If nothing else, some further transparency on the part of the administration might help to dissolve some of the concerns from environmentalists and journalists alike.

Whether this gag order falls in line with normal procedure from a new administration, I think it could be argued that very little about this presidency could be described as normal.

It is public knowledge that president Trump has invested in two corporations directly connected to Energy Transfer Partners and their Dakota Access Pipeline.

On the heels of months of protest at Standing Rock, North Dakota, and across the nation, if Trump had any respect for the wishes of the citizens of the United States he would at least have the decency to keep them informed on topics they have clearly deemed, through their unrest and protest, to be paramount.

 

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