Eye Opener: Is EPA silencing Obama critics?
Updated 4:44 p.m. ET
Happy Tuesday! The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered two agency attorneys to remove a YouTube video they produced that criticizes climate change legislation backed by the Obama administration.
Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, who are married and live in San Francisco, received clearance from EPA to post the video, but were told they could mention their EPA employment only once. Agency officials ordered the couple to take down the video last Friday, saying it violated agency policy.
"The House and Senate climate bills are not a first step in the right direction," the couple wrote in The Post on Oct. 31. "They would give away valuable rights in cap-and-trade permits and create a trillion-dollar carbon-offsets market that will not lead to needed reductions."
"EPA is abusing ethics rules to gag two conscientious employees who have every right to speak out as citizens," PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch said in a statement. Ruch re-posted the original video and its script on the PEER Web site. "EPA reversed itself because someone in headquarters had a tantrum about their Washington Post essay." Ruch also notes that Williams and Zabel clearly stated that they were expressing their views as private citizens and not as EPA employees.
In a statement, EPA General Counsel Scott Fulton told the New York Times that “EPA has nearly 18,000 employees and all of them are free to -- and many do -- publicly express their views on issues of the day."
“The only requirement is that employees adhere to the government’s ethical regulations, which are in place to ensure that EPA and other agencies maintain the highest possible ethical standards at all times," Fulton said.
The couple does not face disciplinary action since they made efforts to remove the video. But it's not clear how PEER's decision to re-post the video will impact the couple.
What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.
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| November 10, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Agencies and Departments, Eye Opener
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