Yesterday I posted on a leaked memo that indicated the incoming Trump Administration was about to bring the hammer down on EPA. The hammer hasn’t landed yet but you can certainly see the wind-up taking place.

The Trump administration has imposed a freeze on grants and contracts by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a move that could affect a significant part of the agency’s budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing, according to records and interviews.

In one email exchange obtained by ProPublica on Monday, an EPA contracting officer concluded a note to a storm water management employee this way:

“Right now we are in a holding pattern. The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”

This is huge.

This is beyond merely stopping spending, the email describes what is essentially a stop-work order. Contractors can finish the task they are currently working on but EPA cannot assign new work under existing contracts. Because most major contracts are structured as Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (ID/IQ) the freezing of task orders and work assignments essentially ends the contract until the freeze is lifted.

And there is more.

he Huffington Post also received a message that was reportedly sent to staff Monday that seems to cover the current agency guidance on talking to the press in general, not just about the directive on grants. The memo states that the agency is imposing tight controls on external communication, including press releases, blog posts, social media and content on the agency website.

I just returned from a briefing for Communication Directors where the following information was provided. These restrictions are effective immediately and will remain in place until further direction is received from the new Administration’s Beach Team. Please review this material and share with all appropriate individuals in your organization. If anyone on your staff receives a press inquiry of any kind, it must be referred to me so I can coordinate with the appropriate individuals in OPA.

  • No press releases will be going out to external audiences.
  • No social media will be going out. A Digital Strategist will be coming on board to oversee social media. Existing, individually controlled, social media accounts may become more centrally controlled.
  • No blog messages.
  • The Beach Team will review the list of upcoming webinars and decide which ones will go forward.
  • Please send me a list of any external speaking engagements that are currently scheduled among any of your staff from today through February.
  • Incoming media requests will be carefully screened.
  • No new content can be placed on any website. Only do clean up where essential.
  • List servers will be reviewed. Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.

I will provide updates to this information as soon as I receive it.

(”Beach team” refers to staffers for the new administration working at the various agencies while new leadership is put in place; “OPA” most likely refers to the “Office of Public Affairs.”)

This is a great start. The benefit of this is that when Scott Pruitt arrives, he will have an agency frozen in amber AND he will have an angry and recalcitrant workforce which means he won’t get attached to them and become assimilated which is the usual fate of EPA administrators.