The U.S. Agriculture Department had temporarily been ordered to not share its research regarding the effects and impact of climate change with taxpayers, the very people whose money is used to fund the research.
Thankfully it didn’t last long: it was just day before yesterday that the United States’ Department of Agriculture had issued an internal memo dictating to its main research division to “not release any public-facing documents”. Today, according to Buzzfeed, it has rescinded that order.
Under the rule, all public-facing documents, including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content” would have to be compulsorily censored.
The gag order was conceived in the same vein as U.S. President Donald Trump’s attempts to silence the Environmental Protection Agency’s scientific research. Similarly, the Trump has also attempted to gag the National Park services, the Department of Transportation and the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Agricultural Department receded its gag order after a day of vocal and strident backlash both from the American public as well as from the scientific community.
“The ARS guidance was not reviewed by me,” said Michael Young, the acting deputy administrator of USDA, to the Washington Post. “I would not have put that kind of guidance out.”
The gag order has been now “immediately rescinded” and the ARS will now follow the USDA’s existing rule of get prior approval from USDA’s leadership before answering any questions “related to legislation, budgets, policy issues and regulation.”