Monday, August 15, 2011

Obama's EPA uses 'minders' to clamp down on openness

For all the President's talk about transparency and openness, his Environmental Protection Agency is planning to institute a policy that employees must get permission to talk to journalists, according to a short but detailed report from the Society for Environmental Journalists (SEJ).

SEJ and other press groups have opposed such restrictions, but the policy could go in to effect unless people object before the Sept. 6 deadline for public comment.

The "Scientific Integrity Policy" also mandates that bureaucraic "minders" from EPA's press office must sit in on all media interviews with scientists.

"We object to parts of the EPA draft policy that restrict news media access to EPA scientists," SEJ President Carolyn Whetzel said. "In some cases, the proposed policy is much more restrictive than the NASA or NOAA policies, or even the White House guidelines."