EPA Says ‘Misleading’ Press Reports About Houston’s Toxic Waste Sites Create Panic

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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) claimed Sunday that the Associated Press is reporting “misleading” claims suggesting the Trump administration is not responding to the damage Hurricane Harvey did to toxic waste sites in Houston.

Associated Press writer Michael Biesecker “had the audacity to imply” that the federal government is not properly managing the Superfund sites dealing with flooding from Harvey, the agency wrote in a statement. Biesecker reported Saturday that officials for the agency have not physically inspected the 41 toxic waste sites near Houston, which Harvey has hounded for more than a week.

“Despite reporting from the comfort of Washington, Biesecker had the audacity to imply that agencies aren’t being responsive to the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey.” the agency wrote in a press statement about the AP’s report. “Not only is this inaccurate, but it creates panic and politicizes the hard work of first responders who are actually in the affected area.”

The AP is “cherry-picking facts” about the agency’s Superfund sites, EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman noted in the statement.

“[W]e have a team of experts on the ground working with our state and local counterparts responding to Hurricane Harvey,” Bowman wrote. “Anything to the contrary is yellow journalism.”

The EPA’s statement claims the agency conducted initial assessments at 41 Superfund sites in the area, with 28 of those sites showing no damage and 13 experiencing some flooding. Biesecker, who updated portions of his report Sunday, left this piece of information out of his original story, the agency added.

The AP did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment in time for publication.

The EPA’s decision to target a specific reporter’s treatment of the Trump-era agency is not unprecedented. The agency accused The New York Times in August of misrepresenting a ruling the EPA made earlier this year on a pesticide environmentalists believe causes various health problems.

TheNYT reported “false facts” about EPA administrator Scott Pruitt’s decision in March not to ban the pesticide chlorpyrifos, the EPA wrote in a statement to the press at the time. Agency officials claim TheNYT withheld information from an Aug. 18 article showing that an appeals court upheld the EPA’s ruling.

NYT reporters Eric Lipton and Roni Rabin made the “drastic” decision to omit “words from the EPA’s one-sentence statement in response to their story that reminded Americans that the USDA had scientific concerns about banning this pesticide,” the EPA statement adds.

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