Epa bars reporters from toxic chemicals summit again – politico electricity in costa rica for travelers

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"I can’t believe I have to say this two days in a row, but @EPA works for the American people," Carper wrote. "Unfortunately, it’s clear that this EPA is more concerned with protecting the EPA chemical summit from the public than it is with protecting the public from harmful chemicals."

"It beggars understanding that the EPA would prevent any reporters from covering a topic of such intense nationwide interest and concern," the group wrote, calling the episodes "just the latest additions to your pattern of antagonism toward the press, and disregard for the public’s right to know." The journalists’ group also urged the agency to stop holding up publication of a still-unreleased study by the Department of Health and Human Services on the chemicals being discussed at the summit, a delay POLITICO disclosed last week.

The Federal Advisory Committee Act requires that “any committee, board, commission, council, conference, panel, task force, or other similar group, or any subcommittee or other subgroup” used by an agency to provide recommendations to the federal government should be open to the public.

“The National Leadership Summit on PFAS scheduled is not a federal advisory committee event,” EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox argued in an emailed statement. “The purpose of this event is for EPA’s state, tribal, and federal government partners and national organizations to share a range of individual perspectives on the Agency’s actions to date and path forward on [the chemicals]. The Agency looks forward to hearing from all stakeholders on these crucial issues.”

"Both state and federal officials had the expectation that the second day of the Summit would be a government-to-government discussion between federal and state co-regulators who are working together to address this important issue," Grevatt said.

Pruitt scheduled the PFAS summit months ago, but it has attracted increased attention after POLITICO reported that senior EPA officials had helped block the release of an HHS study that would have increased warnings about the chemicals. EPA stepped in after the White House warned in January that releasing the study would create a "public relations nightmare."

Pruitt said he was unaware of that intervention, but it has added to the criticism he has faced from lawmakers and the public in recent months. The embattled administrator is facing more than a dozen federal investigations over his first-class travel, sweetheart condo rental from a lobbyist, heavy security spending and other matters.

"Concerns have been mounting for many months that EPA is refusing to do the public’s business in public," Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) wrote in a letter to Pruitt, citing previous efforts to limit press access and his refusal to announce official travel in advance. "However, the treatment of journalists" Tuesday "reached a new low."

One panel to which EPA had initially tried to bar access Tuesday featured an HHS official involved in the research that had alarmed the White House earlier this year. Patrick Breysse, the head of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry within HHS, said the study will be released "soon" and that its key findings will remain unchanged from a draft that the agency was preparing to publish in January.

Breysse told POLITICO on Tuesday that publication of the health study was delayed so Trump administration officials could come up with a communications strategy "that’s all consistent and approved and agreed upon" across agencies including EPA and the Defense Department.