White House freezes EPA contracts – grants, suspends new business activity, orders media blackout.

February 3, 2017

The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants, part of a broader communications clampdown within the executive branch according to a January 24, 2017 Associated Press report from Fortune Magazine.

The prohibitions came to light as the agency moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules finalized in the closing months of President Barack Obama’s term, a potential first step to seeking to kill the regulations.

A summary of the actions posted in the Federal Register includes a long list of regulations that include updated air pollution rulings for several states, renewable fuel standards and limits on the amount of formaldehyde that can leach from wood products. President Donald Trump signed a directive shortly after his inauguration on January 20th ordering a “regulatory freeze pending review” for all federal agency rules that had been finalized that have not yet taken effect.

Emails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press also detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.

The Trump administration has also ordered what it called a temporary suspension of all new business activities at the department, including issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors. The orders were expected to have a significant and immediate impact on EPA activities nationwide. EPA contracts with outside vendors for a wide array of services, from engineering and research science to janitorial supplies.

Similar orders barring external communications have been issued in recent days by the Trump administration at other federal agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Agriculture and Interior.

What this means to you
The Trump administration has instituted a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency, a suspension of all new business activities, and has barred staff from awarding any new contracts or grants as EPA moved to delay implementation of at least 30 environmental rules finalized in the closing months of President Barack Obama’s term.

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