President Trump ordered a contract freeze and media blackout.. This sounds to me to be very similar to "Trump shuts down the EPA", but if that were the case, the language of the article would be different.

So what is the effective difference between what was done and just shutting down the EPA?

  • 2
    Companies have hiring freezes all the time, that doesn't mean the company shuts down. They still have staff on hand that deal with existing work. Also twitter is not a critical component of the EPA, so the fact that they have a media blackout doesn't mean much. Jan 24 '17 at 21:48
  • 1
    That article already sort-of has the answer: "We're just trying to get a handle on everything and make sure what goes out reflects the priorities of the new administration" and "key posts at EPA have not yet been filled with Republican appointees, including Trump's nominee for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. That means there are not yet the new senior personnel in place to make key decisions."
    – user11249
    Jan 24 '17 at 23:45
  • While the EPA was established by executive order, many of its responsibilities are established by statute. The president needs to make alternative provisions for meeting these statutory responsibilities before closing the EPA.
    – phoog
    Jan 25 '17 at 1:56

Closing the EPA would mean shutting down the agency, firing all the workers, and selling off its assets. The current freezes do none of those things, instead shutting down a small number of functions that are not the core of the EPA's work.

The Contract Freeze

According to ProPublica, an EPA contracting officer said:

“Right now we are in a holding pattern. The new EPA administration has asked that all contract and grant awards be temporarily suspended, effective immediately. Until we receive further clarification, this includes task orders and work assignments.”

This doesn't prevent the agency from doing the majority of their work. What it does no new grants or contracts be awarded, as well as put a hold on currently active contracts Task orders and assignments are specific acquisition tools.

However, the ban could become important if it lasts a while. The EPA currently has over 600 contracts. Federal purchasing guidelines often require purchasing from a contracted vendor if one exists, so eventually supplies may run low. The EPA also uses contractors for performing a variety of analyses (for example, analyzing groundwater for traces of contaminants). Until the contract freeze is over, this work will have to wait.

Social Media Freeze

The EPA can still communicate with the organizations that it deals with around the country. This is unlikely to significantly influence how the agency does business.


According to Wikipedia,

The EPA has its headquarters in Washington, D.C., regional offices for each of the agency's ten regions, and 27 laboratories. The agency conducts environmental assessment, research, and education. It has the responsibility of maintaining and enforcing national standards under a variety of environmental laws, in consultation with state, tribal, and local governments. It delegates some permitting, monitoring, and enforcement responsibility to U.S. states and the federally recognized tribes. EPA enforcement powers include fines, sanctions, and other measures. The agency also works with industries and all levels of government in a wide variety of voluntary pollution prevention programs and energy conservation efforts.

In 2016, the agency had 15,376 full-time employees.[1] More than half of EPA human resources are engineers, scientists, and environmental protection specialists; other groups include legal, public affairs, financial, and information technologists

I would expect that most of it's business would continue on undisturbed through it's 15,000 employees, 27 laboratories, and other infrastructure. I fully expect that the EPA will continue to monitor and fine polluters, conduct research, and inform the public of any new or ongoing environmental hazards. The external PR and News ban is only for a week.

Also note that the article you posted included

that the freeze on EPA contracts and grants won't apply to pollution cleanup efforts or infrastructure construction activities.


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