National Beat Reporter
On Jan. 24, the Trump administration implemented a ‘media blackout’ on the Environmental Protection Agency, prohibiting staff from releasing “news releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts.” Following the details of this ‘gag order,’ the Badlands National Park official Twitter account tweeted statistics on climate change.
The tweets, sharing information regarding current carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, were up for a few hours before being deleted.
“Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate,” one said.
“Flipside of the atmosphere, ocean acidity has increased by 30% since the Industrial Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification’ #climate #carboncycle.”
In an official statement, the National Park Service said that the tweets were from a former staffer who was not authorized to use the Twitter accounts and the content was deleted.
“The park was not told to remove the tweets but chose to do so when they realized that their account had been compromised,” the National Park Service statement said.
“At this time, National Park Service social media managers are encouraged to continue the use of Twitter to post information relating to public safety and park information, with the exception of content related to national policy issues.”
President Donald Trump has used Twitter to maintain a stream of dissent regarding climate change. In 2012, he tweeted that global warming was a concept created by the Chinese to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive. Jumping to 2015, Trump said on a radio show, “I am not a believer in man-made global warming.”
Last November, Trump admitted that climate change was “a very complex subject,” but endorsed the issue’s ambiguity, despite concrete evidence provided by the scientific community.
“I’m not sure anybody is ever going to really know,” Trump said.
This is not the first run-in between the Trump administration and the National Park Service. On Jan. 20, the National Park Service’s official Twitter account retweeted images comparing the inaugural crowd sizes between Obama’s and Trump’s inauguration.
Trump’s gag order also barred EPA staff from temporarily awarding any contracts or grants to contractors of the EPA, suspending the ability to issue task orders and work assignments. Similar regulations were imposed on Department of Agriculture and Department of the Interior officials.
After Trump’s inauguration, pages on and related to climate change on the White House website were moved to an Obama online archive.
In a press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer commented that he did not know of the exhaustive details of the EPA gag order, stating that the story was breaking while he was entering the briefing room.
“I don’t think it is a surprise that when there is an administration turnover, we will review the policies,” said Spicer, referencing the Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies, an order signed on Trump’s first day in office.
The memo halts new federal regulations until reviewed by the administration, overriding policies implemented under Obama’s presidency. The past two presidents issued out nearly identical executive orders in the beginning of their administration.
However, this tweet debacle has been the center of criticism.
“Vladimir Putin would be proud,” said Adrienne Watson, the Democratic National Committee national press secretary.