In the midst of an increasingly heated debate over the Trump administration’s environmental policies, a spokesman for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) apologized Thursday after the agency mistakenly transmitted a news release that criticized President Trump’s executive order on climate change policies. The quote was among made by others who praised the executive order.The release mistakenly attributed the criticism to Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia. 
 
Capito was quoted as saying, “With this Executive Order, President Trump has chosen to recklessly bury his head in the sand. Walking away from the Clean Power Plan and other climate initiatives, including critical resiliency projects is not just irresponsible — it’s irrational.” It went on to say, “Today’s executive order calls into question America’s credibility and our commitment to tackling the greatest environmental challenge of our lifetime."
 
The quote was actually made by Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware, who happens to be one of the harshest critics of the Trump administration. He is currently the leading Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. 
 
In reality, Sen. Capito was elated by Trump’s executive order, which is seen to favor the coal industry. She said in a statement on Tuesday, “Stopping this disastrous plan will preserve America’s coal industry, expand our manufacturing renaissance that is reliant upon affordable energy, and protect American families from unprecedented hikes in their electric bills.” Capito was among the dignitaries who attended the signing ceremony that day. Trump thanked the West Virginian in his speech. Capito was quoted along with representatives of the American Petroleum Institute, the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, and the conservative Energy and Environment Legal Institute.
 
Later in the morning on Thursday, the EPA transmitted a corrected version of the news release that included the correct quote for Capitol.
 
Speaking for the EPA, John Konkus claimed that the the EPA press office had mistakenly sent a draft of the news release. He apologized for the “unfortunate” error and vowed that the agency’s process will be improved “as we build our team.” 
 
The rift between careerists in the agency and staff that has been nominated by the White House has come out into the open. For example, some EPA bureaucrats openly campaigned against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. And on Wednesday, a scientist employed by EPA expressed his opposition in a letter published by the New York Times. Michael Kravitz wrote, “I am very saddened by what I see these days under an E.P.A. administrator whose role it is to dismantle the agency that he leads.” wrote Michael Kravitz, who works in Cincinnati.
 
The clash between bureaucrats and the new administration has been brewing from the earliest days of the Trump era. For example, the Twitter account for the Badlands National Park tweeted out messages soon after Trump’s inauguration that claimed that the concentration of carbo dioxide was growing in the atmosphere. Also, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published a "Wisdom Wednesday" post on its Facebook page with data supporting the climate change theory just a week after Trump was sworn in. It was deleted that same day. Elsewhere, career bureaucrats and outsiders have started new social media accounts under pseudonyms such as "Rogue NASA" and "altEPA"  that continue to rail against the Trump administration.
 
Piquing concerns about an alleged “deep state” within the government that is bent upon bringing down Trump, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said on March 21, "There are people that burrow into the government after an administration." He said it is "no huge secret" that there are “people after eight years of Obama that found their way into government.”
 
Advocacy groups such as GreenPeace are calling on staff at the EPA to resist both Donald Trump and the appointees at the agency. 


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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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