House Democrats request hearing on Interior directives // Greenwire

January 31, 2017
In The News

Top Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee asked the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee today to examine the Trump administration's early actions on climate data and on external communications at the Interior Department.

Reps. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and Donald McEachin (D-Va.), ranking members of the committee and subcommittee, respectively, requested a hearing on "attempts to deny the American people crucial facts about climate change and to prevent public servants from blowing the whistle on waste fraud and abuse."

In a letter sent yesterday to Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah), they raised concern about climate change information that disappeared from the White House and State Department websites after Trump became president.

"Reports of the administration's efforts to scrub verifiable climate facts are therefore concerning," they wrote, calling climate change the most important issue under the committee's jurisdiction.

Administration officials have pushed back on public reports about orders to scrub climate data from federal websites.

Compounding the concern about the muzzling of federal scientists and their research, the lawmakers note, is a Jan. 20 memo to Interior employees that says, "No correspondence should be cleared to go to Congress or to any Governor until it has been reviewed by the Acting Chief of Staff and/or Senior White House Advisor."

Incoming administrations routinely halt pending agency actions as they transition to power.

The Democrats say a hearing could explore whether the directives are in compliance with whistleblower-protection laws. They said the order could hinder oversight of waste fraud and abuse, by silencing tipsters within the agency.

Republican spokesmen for the committee did not respond to a request for comment this morning.