File Photo: A demonstration is held to protest against U.S. President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement, outside the White House in Washington D.C. June 1, 2017. (Xinhua/Yan Liang)
WASHINGTON, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sparked a new wave of criticism for blocking two of its scientists and one contractor from speaking on climate change at a scientific conference in Rhode Island on Monday.
EPA research ecologist Autumn Oczkowski, EPA postdoctoral fellow Rose Martin and EPA consultant Emily Shumchenia were originally scheduled to make presentations at the event, which was designed to discuss the health of Narragansett Bay, a bay and estuary situated on the eastern side of Rhode Island, and release a relevant report.
EPA spokesman John Konkus told U.S. media that "EPA scientists are attending, they simply are not presenting, it is not an EPA conference."
The New York Times said the move "highlights widespread concern that the EPA will silence government scientists from speaking publicly or conducting work on climate change."
Scott Pruitt, the agency's administrator, has said that he does not believe human-caused greenhouse gas emissions are primarily responsible for global warming.
The Washington Post reported that the move was "sparking criticism from some academics and congressional Democrats."
"It's definitely a blatant example of the scientific censorship we all suspected was going to start being enforced at EPA," John King, a professor of oceanography at the University of Rhode Island who chairs the science advisory committee of the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, was quoted as saying.
"They don't believe in climate change, so I think what they're trying to do is stifle discussions of the impacts of climate change."
Jack Reed, U.S. Senator from Rhode Island, tweeted: "Muzzling #EPA scientists won't do anything to address #climatechange. We need well-informed policy & action."
The administration of President Donald Trump, who once called climate change a "hoax," has already taken a series of actions reversing his predecessor Barack Obama's climate policies, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change.
The Trump administration's anti-climate stance was widely criticized both at home and abroad.