The Resistance Will Be Tweeted

Alarmed by efforts of the Trump Administration to control communications out of federal agencies, users have created a number of new alternative Twitter accounts has sprung up to give what they say is the true story about climate change, the environment and other topics.

The new resistance Twitter accounts include:

There are many others. View the full list.

The Alt US National Park Service account says it is being run by Park Service employees in their spare time.  That can’t be verified.

Meanwhile, the Park Service has said that a series of tweets about global warming from the Badlands National Park Twitter account was not done by any current employees, nor did the Trump Administration order them removed.

In a statement, the National Park Service blamed “a former employee who was not currently authorized to use the park’s account” for the tweets, which the NPS said they deleted of their own accord.

“The park was not told to remove the tweets but chose to do so when they realized that their account had been compromised. 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,” the National Park Service statement said.
News reports say the Trump Administration has sought to limit the ways that the Environmental Protection Agency, the Interior Department, and the Department of Health and Human Services could communicate with the public. Neither NASA nor NOAA have been affected by the changes.

Sorting out the true scope of the new administration’s efforts had been difficult due to conflicting media reports. The Washington Post reports the administration has imposed significant restrictions on the EPA, including freezing all grants and contracts and limiting communications.

At the EPA, for example, communications staff received a memo instructing them that “no social media will be going out” and “a digital strategist will be coming on board” to oversee it. It added, “Incoming media requests will carefully screened.”

According to a former agency official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations, members of Trump’s EPA landing team spent significant time asking about who controlled the department’s communications levers, especially regarding social media.

EPA’s numerous social media accounts appear to have fallen silent since Trump’s inauguration, with the lone exception of the agency’s Office of Water, which sent out a handful of tweets over the weekend, including a link to what local communities are doing to protect their waterways and advice on using an app to help people figure out whether their local waterway is polluted.

Science Magazine reports the administration has backed off some of its plans relating to the EPA.

Trump administration officials appear to have walked back plans to scrub climate change references from U.S. EPA’s website.

“We’ve been told to stand down,” an EPA employee told E&E News today. That new directive comes after staff were told yesterday to remove the agency’s climate change page from its website, worrying climate change activists and sending data specialists scrambling to download files.

The backlash that erupted after reports surfaced last night that the climate page would be eliminated may have prompted administration officials to change course. News of the plans was first reported last night by Reuters. EPA’s press office did not respond to requests for comment today.

Science Magazine also reports that an uproar over reported restrictions on the Department of Agriculture appears to be a self-inflicted wound.

In a bungled attempt to anticipate the wishes of their new political bosses, the U.S. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) on Monday imposed what was widely interpreted as a gag order on its scientists communicating with the public. But a senior ARS official tells ScienceInsider that it was a poorly worded effort by career officials—not anyone appointed by Trump—to remind employees of a longstanding U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) policy on clearing statements that have policy relevance with senior officials before releasing them.

The statement was rescinded the next day after a flurry of media reports accused the new Trump administration of attempting to still the voice of scientists at ARS.

Christopher Bentley, ARS’s communications chief in Beltsville, Maryland, blames himself for the wording in a two-sentence staff memo declaring that “until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents.” Bentley says the memo, issued by Chief of Staff Sharon Drumm, used the wrong phrase to describe what is standard operating practice at USDA. (Both Bentley and Drumm are career civil servants; indeed, ARS has no political appointees, not even ARS Administrator Chavonda Jacobs-Young.)

Trump has expressed significant skepticism about global climate change, at one point opining that it was a hoax created by the Chinese government to destroy U.S. industry. The Chinese have denied the claim, which most experts on the subject have dismissed as wrong.

Trump has pledged to take the United States out of the Paris Agreement, an international effort to reduce carbon emissions and slow the growth of global warming.

Meanwhile, scientists are busy organizing a science march that was be based on the Women’s March that took place last Saturday.  That series of marches drew millions of people into the streets in  cities in the United States around the world.