EPA employees go rogue on Twitter to protest Trump and Pruitt

Logo of @RogueEPAstaff Twitter account

EPA employees smarting under the social media gag order of President Trump and last week’s appointment of Scott Pruitt as Administrator are going online — in droves — to voice their discontent. Numerous “alternative” Twitter accounts are lighting up in advance of a meeting between Pruitt and staffers scheduled for Tuesday.

Below are excerpts from a mult-part post from @altEPASmrtGrwth, an alternative Twitter account for the EPA’s Smart Growth program:

Smart Growth 5 EPA

Smart Growth 9

Other alternative accounts from EPA workers and their offices include:

100% EPA staff. They gagged us, FOIA’d our personal texts, and yet #WePersisted. Agency staff welcome to connect with us via DM. #altEPA

The Unofficial “Resistance” team of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Not taxpayer subsidized! Environmental conditions may vary from alternative facts.

Doing Science in the dark with our hands tied, since 2017. Opinions our own; Facts belong to everyone.

Last month, the Trump Administration prohibited the EPA and its offices from using social media — an effort to block communications on such environmental issues as climate change, water and air quality, and to prevent them from issuing public safety information. The gag order also extended to other federal agencies; affected workers rebelled and created numerous alternative Twitter accounts.

From January 19 until February 17, @EPA, the EPA’s main Twitter account, went dark and only came back to life to welcome its new administrator:

We’d like to congratulate Mr. Pruitt on his confirmation! We look forward to welcoming him to EPA.

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) February 17, 2017

The congratulatory statement was followed by subsequent adoring posts which, when compared to the online discontent voiced by some of EPA’s 15,000 employees, seem to be lifted from a propagandist’s playbook:

Administrator Pruitt is dedicated to creating policies that serve the American people. Learn more about him: https://t.co/Gie2nOWnEl pic.twitter.com/EsXI66WedO

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) February 17, 2017

American leaders & job creators cheered @EPAScottPruitt‘s confirmation. Here’s what they’re saying: https://t.co/crobfMnD7x

— U.S. EPA (@EPA) February 18, 2017

Moreover, according to a source familiar with the matter, EPA offices with Twitter accounts were instructed to retweet these posts and told, “If no RT, they will be noticed.”

EPA Research RT of Pruitt

EPA Pruitt retweet

Yesterday, February 18, in what can be viewed as solidarity with the EPA’s embattled rank and file, the ACLU took to Twitter to advise federal employees of their free speech rights:

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: Federal employees and the First Amendment. pic.twitter.com/evxbKH4kIz

— ACLU National (@ACLU) February 18, 2017

On Tuesday February 21, Pruitt will meet with his staff in the Rachel Carson Green Room at the EPA’s offices. Pruitt is expected to present his vision for the EPA, but his employees will be watching to learn whether he plans to gut the agency’s budget and lay-off perhaps two-thirds of its workforce. A live stream of the event will be available here.Meet Administrator Pruitt EPA MEMO

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