Several journalism, environmental and science groups demanded that the Environmental Protection Agency remove new restrictions that the organizations say will muzzle independent scientists who advise the agency.
A *letter sent to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on Tuesday refers to an April agency memo that asks all members of EPA's Science Advisory Board, which offers professional and scientific expertise that helps the agency craft its regulations, to refrain from directly responding to "external requests related to their efforts to advise the agency."
"The policy requires all requests, both formal and informal, to be routed through EPA officials. This prevents many of our nation’s top independent environmental science experts from sharing their expertise, unfiltered, with the public," said the letter, which was signed by the American Geophysical Union, the Society of Environmental Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists and others.
The letter is the latest in an ongoing tiff between the EPA and journalism groups.
Journalists previously slammed the agency's reticence to discuss its proposed carbon emissions rule for existing power plants — the largest action the agency has ever taken to address climate change and the centerpiece of President Obama's environmental agenda — on the record with reporters. The agency has kept its officials largely off-limits to the press corps in Washington.
The agency, for its part, said it has discussed the proposed rule, which aims to cut power-sector emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030, at various events across the country.
And White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, responding to an administration-wide transparency complaint by the Society of Professional Journalists, said in a Monday letter that the administration has opened up access to some information, such as records of who has visited the White House.
The EPA did not immediately return a request for comment.