EPA guard shoves reporter, multiple news outlets blocked from water pollution event

Rep. Peter Welch File

Jahan Wilcox, an EPA spokesperson, told reporters there was no space for them at the event.

Sally Buzbee, executive editor of The Associated Press, said in a separate statement, "The Environmental Protection Agency's selective barring of news organizations, including the AP, from covering today's meeting is alarming and a direct threat to the public's right to know about what is happening inside their government". "We've all asked the agency's press office why we're being selectively shut out and have gotten no responses", he tweeted. "We, along with the millions of Americans whose drinking water is polluted with these chemicals, would like nothing more than to see serious efforts from EPA to address this crisis".

On Wednesday, however, the agency said no reporters at all would be allowed to attend the summit, arguing it was limited to officials handling chemical oversight and state regulators.

CNN, the Associated Press, and E&E News all released statements Tuesday condemning the EPA's actions.

EPA security guards forcibly shoved a female AP reporter out of a meeting on Tuesday after the reporter attempted to enter and ask questions. When one of the labs that analyzed utilities' water samples re-examined its data, it found that if the EPA had required a lower, health-protective reporting level, many more water systems would have shown pollution.

A report published by The Hill, however, said a handful of seats in the press section remained vacant by the time Pruitt began speaking.

"When the public feels you're holding back, then the public starts not to trust you", Olson said.

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Some studies have linked some types of PFAS to cancer and other health issues. Authorities say the contaminants are present in unsafe levels in some water systems, including several near military bases and industries.

ATSDR has not yet released its minimal risk level suggestions for PFAS found in drinking water.

Pruitt invited what the EPA said were 200 people to the session in Washington.

Guards at an Environmental Protection Agency summit roughed up reporters attempting to cover the agency's latest scandal and physically removed them from the room. Journalists were at first not invited to stay through panel presentations, discussions and closing remarks regarding better regulating PFAS exposure and development of a cohesive federal standard.

Pruitt's remarks at the meeting were listed on his public schedule and described as being open to the press on a federal daybook of events.

The agency has reportedly blocked publication of that study by an arm of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Lincoln Ferguson, a senior adviser at the agency, said Wednesday that John Konkus had made a decision to remain in his job as deputy associate administrator for public affairs. But other reports indicate there were many empty chairs at the venue.

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