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EPA cancels subscription to news outlet dedicated to covering it

EPA cancels subscription to news outlet dedicated to covering it
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is immediately canceling its paid subscription to one of the largest environmental trade publications, E&E News.

The move takes effect Aug. 1 and will end EPA employees’ free access to the Washington-based publication, which provides in-depth coverage of the agency and related government agencies alongside a wide variety of environmental issues.

“EPA has decided to cancel its desktop subscription to E&E News,” Associate Deputy Administrator Doug Benevento wrote in an email to employees on Thursday.

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“Over the next two years, EPA would have spent $382,425 to receive" various E&E newsletters, Benevento said, noting that the money will instead be used to purchase subscriptions and access to other publications.

He did not name the other publications.

The American Federation of Government Employees, the EPA employee union, described the cancelation as a retaliatory move that would hurt agency employees.

“By cutting @EPA staff off from @EENewsUpdates, #EPA is stopping EPA scientists from getting E&E’s impeccable & in-depth press coverage of EPA’s union busting moves & #AFGE’s efforts to counter them, thereby retaliating against both E&E News & the union,” the union tweeted.

EPA has been one of the Trump administration’s most vocal agencies in pushing back against critical press coverage.

The agency often issues press releases denouncing coverage from outlets like E&E, The New York Times and The Hill.

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A press release in March was titled “EPA Corrects the Record after Reckless Reporting” after a number of outlets reported on its coronavirus policy to pause enforcement of pollution monitoring requirements.

EPA Administrator Andrew WheelerAndrew WheelerEnforcing environmental laws is a key to environmental justice EPA reapproves use of pesticide previously struck down in court OVERNIGHT ENERGY: EPA eases permitting for modifications to polluting facilities | Rocky Mountain National Park closed due to expanding Colorado wildfire | Trump order strips workplace protections from civil servants MORE and the agency occasionally use Twitter to push back on coverage.

.@EENewsUpdates is misleading Americans with an alternative narrative. Bottom line: This final rule will save lives, reduce pollution and provide significant benefits to the American economy,” Wheeler tweeted in reference to coverage of the same story.

Wheeler tweeted similar critiques of other news outlets following their coverage of the same policy.

“FAKE NEWS: @NYT is spreading inaccurate info & misleading the public. That’s not what America needs right now,” he wrote in March.

Last year, EPA’s top spokeswoman Corry Schiermeyer told The Washington Post that the tweets and press releases are a way to establish an official record of disputing a story.

“If we sat back and didn’t do anything, it can spin out of control,” she said at the time. 

E&E is one of the largest publications dedicated solely to covering environmental issues, with paid subscribers ranging from government agencies and congressional offices to advocacy groups and energy producers.

“I’m sad EPA isn’t renewing. Their staffers are heavy readers of our publications, generating hundreds of thousands of page views a year,” E&E executive editor Cy Zaneski told The Hill in an email Thursday. “We will miss their readership, but we’ll continue to cover EPA with gusto.”

When asked for further comment on the cancelation, James Hewitt, an EPA spokesman, only cited the cost, adding the money can now be spent "in other higher priority areas."

Rachel Frazin contributed.