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Trump Has Barred EPA Staff from Talking to the Press

The new president also reportedly placed a freeze on all new contracts and the agency's current work assignments.

The Trump administration has banned Environmental Protection Agency staff from posting to the department's social media accounts, updating its blogs, or speaking with the press, the Hill reports.

This media blackout decree was issued on the same day President Trump signed two executive actions allowing for the construction on the controversial Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines.

According to the Associated Press, EPA employees received an email from the Trump administration on Tuesday afternoon laying out the terms of the media blackout. The email also enacted a contract freeze, prohibiting staff from awarding new grants or contracts, as well as continuing work assignments. The halt on EPA activities is likely to affect numerous projects around the country, like removing hazardous waste or testing drinking water.

Trump's EPA transition leader, Myron Ebell, told ProPublica that the move might be a "wider than some previous administrations," but was a normal part of any White House transition. "They're trying to freeze things to make sure nothing happens they don't want to have happen, so any regulations going forward, contracts, grants, hires, they want to make sure to look at them first," Ebell said of the incoming administration.

There were also reports of other government employees, from the US Department of Agriculture to the Department of Health and Human Services, being issued similar restrictions on outside communication.

It should go without saying that the EPA did not respond to VICE's phone calls requesting comment on the matter.

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