Energy

Former Employee Said He Hijacked A National Park Twitter Account ‘Fearing A Gag Order On Climate Science’ Under Trump

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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A former seasonal employee of Badlands National Park sent out a series of tweets in January warning of the dangers of global warming because he feared the Trump administration would put a “gag order on climate science.”

The employee sent the tweets out on Jan. 24, just days after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. A flurry of news stories claimed Trump issued “gag orders” on government scientists, which were later debunked as “overblown.”

“Fearing a gag order on climate science I willfully sent out a series of tweets on the subject,” the former worker wrote in a Jan. 24 email to his boss, Park Superintendent Mike Pflaum, soon after the tweets attracted media attention, according to records obtained by Bloomberg.

“I changed the password a few months back but when setting up a Twitter account for my own personal use discovered the cookies had left me logged into the Badlands account on the Hootsuite autoscheduler,” the employee wrote.

“I swear that I no longer have the login information,” the employee wrote. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”

The National Parks Service told employees to temporarily stop tweeting from official accounts within hours of Trump taking office. The directive came as a result of a different Parks Service employee tweeting a New York Times post with side-by-side pictures of Trump’s inauguration and President Barack Obama’s.

The Park Service also retweeted an Esquire.com article claiming all mentions of “climate change” were scrubbed from Whitehouse.gov.

The National Hurricane Center shared a Facebook statement from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders critical of Trump. NHC apologized for sharing the political post, but then quickly deleted its apology.

The former employee, who no longer worked for Badlands park, sent his tweets out after that, and sparked a media firestorm. He tweeted three messages about the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, claiming the greenhouse gas increased ocean acidity since pre-industrial times.

Badlands’ Twitter account became a symbol of “defiance” against the Trump administration.

National Parks officials moved quickly to douse those flames by issuing a statement that it was a former employee who sent out the tweets, and not a current government worker.

The episode inspired dozens of “rogue” and “alt” twitter accounts for federal agency set up to criticize Trump’s agenda.

The National Parks Service told Bloomberg they were unable to take any disciplinary action against the former seasonal employee since he was no longer with the agency.

“There was nothing we could do,” the spokesman said.

Bloomberg’s records request also revealed mostly positive messages sent to National Park Service email in response to the Badlands incident.

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