Investigate EPA Official Accused of Pressuring Scientist to Alter Congressional Testimony

Target: Arthur A. Elkins Jr., Inspector General, Environmental Protection Agency

Goal: Hold official accountable who allegedly bullied scientist to update written testimony regarding widely criticized dismissal of several fellow EPA science advisory board members.

The chief of staff for the Environmental Protection Agency reportedly asked an agency scientist to alter her written testimony regarding the dismissal of fellow science advisory board members. This came after intensifying criticism from those who viewed the layoffs as another assault by the Trump Administration on environmental science.

Dr. Deborah Swackhammer stated that she felt bullied in e-mails from the EPA chief of staff which demanded revision of her written testimony to align with provided talking points. Former government officials interviewed by the New York Times indicated that an administration attempting to alter already submitted witness testimony is virtually unheard of and inappropriate.

Throughout its first six months in office, the Trump Administration has repeatedly attempted to diminish scientific work at the Environmental Protection Agency. This includes removal of agency websites devoted to climate research, public questioning of science consensus regarding climate change by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt, and proposal of a 31 percent budget reduction, which would cripple or eliminate dozens of research programs.

It is critical to the health of a democracy that congressional witnesses be permitted to provide objective testimony free from political influence. Please sign the below petition calling for an investigation into the EPA chief of staff’s conduct.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Inspector General Elkins Jr.,

I am writing to urge you to investigate Environmental Protection Agency Chief of Staff Jackson’s alleged action in pressuring a congressional witness to amend their written testimony regarding dismissal of several science advisory board members. This has been widely interpreted as a highly inappropriate attempt to deflect criticism that scientific research is being actively diminished within the agency for political reasons.

The health of our democracy depends in part on the ability of witnesses to provide objective, honest testimony free from political influence. Please demonstrate your independence and respect for that ideal by initiating an inquiry into this matter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: United States Government

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