EPA freezes grants, CDC cancels climate change conference in anticipation of Trump’s White House
(New York Daily News) Foreseeing sweeping changes in President Trump’s White House, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cancelled a climate change conference and the Environmental Protection Agency froze all of its grants and contracts.
With fossil fuel enthusiast Scott Pruitt slated to lead the EPA, the new administration appears poised to gut the 46-year-old department. It reportedly suspended its contracts and funding for air quality, climate change and emission reduction programs and ordered its employees to secrecy.
Citing leaked emails, ProPublica reports the nationwide restrictions — which include task orders and assignments — are in place pending further instructions from the Trump administration.
In addition, the agency will enforce tougher screening for media requests, pass public appearances and website changes through the new administration, and funnel all social media activity through a digital strategist, according to the Huffington Post.
The EPA’s final Twitter dispatch was a blog post from outgoing Administrator Gina McCarthy praising her agency’s work under the Clean Air Act on Jan. 19.
The modifications signal the administration’s initiative to reverse Obama’s environmental legacy, which started almost immediately after Trump assumed the presidency with the White House striking most mentions to climate change from its website.
Possibly anticipating conflicts with a right-wing White House, the Atlanta-based CDC nixed a conference on climate change’s impact to health — without explanation.
Dr. Georges Benjamin, who oversees the American Public Health Organization, believes the “worrisome” decision’s purpose was to prevent an ideological clash. His nonprofit had co-sponsored the cancelled conference.
“They had no idea or not whether the new administration would be supportive,” Benjamin said. “They decided the better part of valor was to stop and regroup.”
Edward Maibach, the director of Center for Climate Change Communication at George Mason University who was also scheduled to speak at the Feb. 11-15 conference, slammed the CDC’s decision as self-silencing.
“I don’t know why they canceled the meeting, but I do know the meeting was important and should have been held. Politics is politics, but protecting the health of our citizens is one of our government’s most important obligations to us,” Maibach said in an email to the Washington Post.
Trump’s administration has not yet named a replacement for former CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.