EPA to two of its lawyers: Alter critical video or face “disciplinary action”

Hmm. And here I thought dissenting points of view were going to be “welcomed” within this admin? Apparently not:

The Environmental Protection Agency has directed two of its lawyers to makes changes to a YouTube video they posted that is critical of the Obama administration’s climate change policy.

The agency, citing federal policies, told the two lawyers, Laurie Williams and Allan Zabel, who are married and based in San Francisco, that they could mention their E.P.A. affiliation only once; must remove language specifying Mr. Zabel’s expertise and their years of employment with the agency; and must remove an image of the agency’s office in San Francisco.

They have been told that if they do not edit the video to comply with the policy, they could face disciplinary action.

The video, titled “The Huge Mistake,” was produced and posted in September. But the agency did not issue its warning until The Washington Post published a widely cited opinion article by the couple on Oct. 31 that raised concerns, echoing those in the video, about cap-and-trade legislation that the Obama administration supports.

Ms. Williams and Mr. Zabel say cap and trade, in which the government sets a limit on gases that contribute to global warming and then lets companies trade permits to meet it, can be easily gamed by industry and fail to reduce the emissions linked to global warming.

On Thursday, Mr. Zabel said, regional ethics officers with the agency met with him to express concerns about the video and to demand that it be taken down by the next day. Ms. Williams was traveling and did not take part in the meeting.

E.P.A. officials said the agency did not object to the content of the video or the op-ed article or challenge the couple’s right to express their opinions. But they said that government ethics rules required them to state that the opinions were their own and not those of the agency.

I was pleasantly surprised to see this story in the NYT, but was not so surprised to read at the bottom of it that in the print version it was published on page A22. Contrast that with a very critical piece on Bush’s EPA, published July 12, 2008 – on page A1.

Here’s the evil video in question:

Ed Morrissey’s take:

The EPA and the administration claims that they have no problem with people speaking their minds. However, their experience at EPA forms an important basis of their argument, at least in establishing their expertise in the field. The image of the EPA facility depicts public property, which should hardly require permission to use in any political speech. It’s an obvious attempt to harass and intimidate the couple.

I disagree with their position on this, of course. We don’t need a “carbon tax” that will drive up the costs of production in the US while our unemployment rate is 10.2% and climbing. We need cheap energy produced domestically that both employs a lot more Americans and creates an incentive for broad-based investment in American production overall. But it’s worth watching to see how big a failure cap-and-trade has been wherever it’s been tried, and how this White House likes to silence those who depart from the party line. And as Michelle notes, it’s not the first time the EPA’s been caught doing just that.

It’s understandable that any administration wants some level of “message control” over those associated closely with the administration who speak openly about the respective administration’s policy(ies). But this administration has proven time and time again that it will go through extraordinary – chilling, in fact – measures to clamp down on dissent both within its ranks and outside of them – and on Mainstreet USA . Interestingly enough, the left dogged Bush for years over his alleged “silencing of dissent” within his own EPA, yet we have heard hardly a peep out of them this time around. Gee, I wonder why?

Oh – and speaking of clamping down: Remember Gerald Walpin, the Inspector General who the administration targeted and and subsequently fired because he wasn’t giving any special treatment to Obama donor and Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, who was under investigation on suspicion of “misuse of federal grants” to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars? He was cleared today of all charges, and wants his job back. Not sure why, considering what they put him through – and how they insultingly tried to claim their rationale for letting him go was due to “senility” issues, but maybe it has to do with the fact that the admin wants the Johnson case dismissed, and he’s trying to stop that from happening.

Stay tuned.

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