New Directive From Trump Administration Tightens Rules for USGS Scientists Talking to Reporters

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, HVO geologists collect samples of spatter for laboratory analysis after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 6, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, HVO geologists collect samples of spatter for laboratory analysis after the eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano on May 6, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. (Credit: U.S. Geological Survey via Getty Images)

A new directive from the Trump administration instructs federal scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey to get approval from its parent agency before agreeing to most interview requests from reporters, according to employees and emails from officials with the Department of the Interior and USGS.

USGS employees who spoke with The Times on condition of anonymity because they were unauthorized to do so say the new protocol represents a dramatic change in decades of past media practices at the scientific agency and will interfere with scientists’ ability to quickly respond to reporters’ questions. They expected that taxpayers would see less of the USGS’ scientific expertise as reporters seek scientific comment elsewhere.

The new protocol also permits the Department of the Interior’s communications office to reject interview requests on scientific matters.

A deputy press secretary for the Department of the Interior, Faith Vander Voort, wrote in an email that “the characterization that there is any new policy or that it for some reason targets scientists is completely false.” She said the Department of the Interior’s communications office “simply asked” the USGS public affairs office to follow media guidelines published in 2012 during the Obama administration. Vander Voort did not answer a question as to what prompted the change in media protocol.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.