Energy

Former EPA Intern Whines About Pruitt Supposedly Demoralizing Agency Officials

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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Long-time EPA employees sit on pins and needles every time the Trump administration is brought up during casual conversations, according to a former intern at the agency.

Agency employees grin and bear it whenever President Donald Trump’s name is uttered during casual conversation, Katie Miller, a public policy student at the University of Maryland, wrote in an editorial Wednesday for The Washington Post.

“My colleagues lowered their voices to discuss political matters, but they talked openly about ‘before’ and ‘after,’ referring to the inauguration,” Miller wrote, referring to the day Trump officially became president. Yet some of her fellow interns and colleagues never noticed a difference, even if she did.

“Some seemed to put on a mask at work, clenching their teeth and smiling every time the new administration came up in conversation. One man told me he’d worked at the EPA during many administrations and had never felt so discouraged,” she noted, adding “but just under the surface, fear and loathing had taken hold.”

Miller was responsible for updating the agency’s social media platforms: writing posts advocating ways to be more environmentally conscious, and pushing posts that glamorized Earth day rituals. Her role came with explicit instructions to avoid mentions of “climate change” and “going green,” she claimed.

She was asked, instead, to use “conserving energy” or “saving money” as an alternative for climate change and other agency buzzwords. Miller suggested the directions could have been issued out of fears that agency chief Scott Pruitt would take exception to their usage – she decided to confront him over the issue.

“I’m working on social media,” Miller told Pruitt during a brief encounter with the former Oklahoma attorney general. “And I actually have a question for you…. What is the reasoning behind taking information away from the public, instead of allowing them to see it and come to their own conclusions?”

Her complaints have become a common refrain among Trump’s critics, especially those who worry about the president’s decision to begin rolling back scores of his predecessor’s regulatory achievements. Pruitt and Trump are antagonistic toward the idea of using the agency to target eliminating carbon emissions many scientists believe cause global warming. They also want to use the EPA to focus on toxic waste cleanup rather than tackling climate change.

Activists grew even more incensed after reports surfaced in September of 2017 showing that the agency was scraping clean mentions of climate change from its website.

EPA’s SmartWay website dropped the terms “climate change” and “greenhouse gas emissions” from a paragraph describing the environmental effects of freight transport. The changes took place between April 5 and May 30, academics with the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative (EDGI) reported.

The agency supposed wiped out one section in the program noting that, “The science is clear — greenhouse gas emissions from all sources must decrease.” SmartWay was constructed in 2004 to help transporting businesses limit their impact on the environment.

During the first few months of the Trump administration, people who visited the website were told: “many companies monitor their carbon emissions and establish inventories or overall ‘carbon footprint’ to help decision makers identify the best strategies for reducing climate impacts.”

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