Report: Trump administration to vet EPA webinars

Report: Trump administration to vet EPA webinars

EPA GreenChill webinars on natural refrigerants could be affected.

As part of a series of restrictions placed on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Trump administration staff members will review the agency’s upcoming webinar schedule and decide which ones will go forward, according to a report in the Huffington Post.

The EPA, through its GreenChill Partnership, planned to host nine webinars between February and August that relate to the HVAC&R industry, including some addressing natural refrigerants. A query to the EPA’s public affairs office asking whether any of these webinars would be affected was not answered.

The Huffington Post article said it received a message “reportedly sent to [EPA] staff Monday” describing the restrictions on the EPA’s external communications. The webinar review will be conducted by the “Beach Team,” described as “staffers for the new administration working at various agencies while new leadership is put in place”. Scott Pruitt, the nominee to head the EPA, is still undergoing confirmation hearings in the Senate.

The next EPA GreenChill webinar – ‘Efforts to Reduce Refrigerant Emissions through the Consumer Goods Forum’ – is scheduled to take place on February 28. Other future webinars include: ‘IIAR’s Resources for Using NH3 and CO2’ (April 18); ‘ASHRAE-Coordinated Research on Alternative Refrigerants’ (July 18); and ‘ORNL’s Experiences Conducting Life-Cycle Climate Performance Tests on Commercial Refrigeration Systems’ (August 8).

In addition to vetting the EPA’s webinar schedule, the communication restrictions include a ban on the following: press releases to external audiences, blog messages, social media communications, and new website content. In addition, external speaking engagements through February would be reviewed. The restrictions were effective immediately and would remain in effect until further notice.

Other federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, have also been told to temporarily shut down external communications, the Huffington Post reported.

The EPA was also instructed to freeze for an unspecified period of time all grants, which include funding for research, air quality monitoring, and redevelopment of former industrial sites, according to the Huffington Post, which quoted a source at a congressional office. The freeze on grants was also reported by ProPublica. In addition, Scientific America reported that the Trump administration is reviewing the climate change content on the EPA’s website.