Memos obtained by various media outlets show that scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Agriculture are now blocked from communicating with the public and the press.
As Chavonda Jacobs-Young, administrator the USDA's Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told Buzzfeed the order - which was originally written by Sharon Drumm, chief of staff at ARS - should never have been sent in the first place because it was not properly vetted by USDA leadership.
Citing sources from the EPA, Kate Sheppard from the Huffington Post reported last night that the agencies' grants were frozen, in addition to a hiring and regulations freeze that was publicly announced, and that staff were instructed not to speak publicly about the order.
The Department of Agriculture has reportedly lifted an order that called for scientists and employees of its research arm not to release any of its work to the public. Monday afternoon, the Associated Press reported that the EPA was under a "media blackout" - meaning it can not issue press releases, blog posts or social media updates to communicate its most recent findings.
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However, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has just declared in a press conference that, "It is not a White House document". NYT acknowledged in their report that the Trump White House did not respond to a request for comment on the draft order.
After confirming that "there is some semblance of truth" in the Buzzfeed report, the ARS media office declined to comment further and has not responded to further requests for comment.
The ARS focuses on scientific research into the main issues facing agriculture, including long-term climate change. The Trump administration has also ordered a "temporary suspension" of all new business activities at the department.
USDA-ARS officials have confirmed that effective immediately, the ban includes the release of news releases, photos and other material to the public. It is also interesting to note that the last tweet from ARS's official account was sent the day before Trump's inauguration on January 20. The memo also says that a digital strategist will be coming in to oversee the agency's social-media policies, and that "existing, individually controlled social-media accounts may become more centrally controlled".
According to unidentified sources close to the Agricultural Research Service, the blackout probably stems from concerns over climate-related research. A disruption in the chain of information could represent a critical roadblock for producers.