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EPA Slaps Down Rumors It’s Deleting An Obscure Children’s Health Program

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Chris White Tech Reporter

An EPA official is spreading misinformation about why she was put on leave from a small program created in the 1990s to protect children from pollution, an agency official told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Friday.

Ruth Etzel, the director of the Office of Children’s Health Protection, leaked an email to Buzzfeed on Wednesday suggesting the agency placed her on leave to fast track plans to eliminate her office. Her email is mischaracterizing the move, according to EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson.

“Although EPA does not customarily comment on personnel matters, due to circulating misinformation, the Director of EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection was placed on leave to give the Agency the opportunity to review allegations about the Director’s leadership of the office,” Jackson told TheDCNF.

The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that Etzel was removed from her post. She eventually leaked an email to Buzzfeed suggesting the agency was on a mission to delete her program. She also had her badge taken away, an anonymous source told TheNYT at the time.

“I appear to be the ‘fall guy’ for their plan to ‘disappear’ the office of children’s health,” Etzel wrote Tuesday in the email. “It had been apparent for about 5 months that the top EPA leaders were conducting ‘guerrilla warfare’ against me as the leader of OCHP, but now it’s clearly official.”

The Office of Children’s Health Protection advises the EPA on the health needs of children, and its findings can sometimes lead to more stringent environmental regulations. The office Etzel oversees is small, with 15 full-time employees in Washington, D.C. and 10 regional children’s health coordinators.

EPA spokesman John Konkus did not tell TheNYT why Etzel was placed on administrative leave, though he did say that no such agenda was in play with the reduction in size and leadership of those offices.

“These offices will continue to be a part of headquarters and regional organizations,” he said in a statement. “Children’s health is and has always been a top priority for the Trump Administration and the E.P.A. in particular is focused on reducing lead exposure in schools.”

Etzel has not responded to TheDCNF’s request for comment about the nature of the email or the validity of Jackson’s assertion. (RELATED: Trump’s EPA Continues ‘Cleansing Website Of Obama-Era Climate Buzzwords)

Activists and academics made it their mission in 2017 to root out examples where the agency deleted or altered climate change buzzwords from EPA’s website. The Environmental Data and Governance Initiative characterized in August of that year that the agency’s decision to scrape the term climate “change” from its website as a type of “cleansing.”

The National Institute of Environmental Health Science, for instance, changed a headline on its website at the time from “Climate Change and Human Health,” to “Climate and Human Health,” the group reported.

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