July 29, 2008

EPA to Staffers: Don’t Talk in Probe

A U.S. official has told managers not to answer questions from investigators looking into possible political interference at the EPA, The Washington Post said.

Citing an e-mail from Robbi Farrell, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, the newspaper said Monday that agency managers were instructed to refer inquiries from the press, congressional investigators and the EPA inspector general to specified EPA officials.

The e-mail was sent June 16 to EPA managers. It directs them to advise employees not to respond to questions or make any statements if they are contacted directly by the IG's office or GAO requesting information of any kind.

Farrell told managers that EPA employees should refer questions from investigators or the media to EPA press officers and copy her on the referrals.

Francesca Grifo of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Post her organization's investigation found that retaliation is widespread at the EPA.