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EPA prevents three news organizations from attending conference on water contaminants

22 May 2018

The AP journalist, Ellen Knickmeyer, was let back into the meeting after she and reporters from at least two other news organizations had been told they could not cover the invitation-only event. The chemicals were used in items like nonstick coating and firefighting foam and have contaminated some water systems nationwide.

The decision follows vast media scrutiny over the EPA's limitation of reporters allowed to cover an hour of its chemical summit Tuesday morning - including one reporter who says she was forcibly removed from the event.

Since taking office, President Donald Trump and his Cabinet have been plagued with scandals, with one of the most recent being that of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt.

Later, the EPA reversed course and said the reporters, even those banned, could attend the summit on drinking water, which comes after emails uncovered by news organizations proved the EPA helped delay the release of a study that found PFAs in water supplies are harmful to human health at lower levels than the agency previously thought.

Tuesday's events add to a growing list of antagonistic exchanges between the EPA and the news media.

An EPA spokesperson announced Tuesday afternoon that media will now be able to attend in person the later portion of the National Leadership Summit on Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) being held at EPA. The EPA did not, however, contradict any facts in Biesecker's story.

Under Pruitt, the EPA has also consistently attempted to bar media from attending agency events.

The agency also regularly bars certain media outlets from covering agency announcements.

The EPA is "very focused upon action", Pruitt said. Meanwhile, outlets like Politico, Buzzfeed, and the Hill were not invited to the event.

The meeting, convened in Washington by EPA chief Scott Pruitt, was open to invited media only, EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said.

Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building.

When reached by phone and asked about the Associated Press report, Wilcox declined to comment to CNN beyond his original statement, which said he was "unaware of the individual situation that has been reported".

In response to the incident, the Sierra Club released a statement condemning the agency's treatment of the press. "We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too". "If Pruitt truly has nothing to hide he should be welcoming reporters with open arms, not ejecting them for trying to do their jobs".

EPA prevents three news organizations from attending conference on water contaminants