EPA yanks scientists from conference climate change talk

Three U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) scientists have been pulled from a Rhode Island conference where they were scheduled to speak today about climate change, according to multiple media reports.

One of the scientists, Autumn Oczkowski, a research ecologist, was slated to deliver the keynote address at the conference sponsored by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program.

The event was to inform the public of the health of New England’s largest estuary. The bay program is one of 28 such programs funded by the EPA. More locally, the Chesapeake Bay cleanup is another.

The EPA gave “no specific reason” for why the scientists were pulled from the conference.

The cancellations come at a time when EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has sought to undo Obama-era climate rules and regulations.  That includes the Clean Power Plan, put in place to address climate change and global warming. Last week, the EPA also pulled references of climate change from a portion of its website.

The New York Times first reported the last-minute cancellations, which were confirmed by EPA spokesman John Konkus.  Tom Borden, director of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, also confirmed it for Reuters and other news outlets. Borden was not available immediately Monday for comment.

Also scheduled to speak were Rose Martin, an EPA postdoctoral fellow, and Emily Shumchenia, an EPA consultant.  They were slated for a panel discussion on the biological implications of climate change.

A spokesman for Senator Jack Reed (D-R.I.) told the Associated Press the event will go on as planned and the report will be released. The report finds that climate change is affecting air and water temperatures, precipitation, sea level and fish.

Reed said in a statement that “muzzling EPA scientists won’t do anything to address climate change.”