President Trump's administration has temporarily suspended all new contracts and grants at the Environmental Protection Agency, and blocked EPA employees "from providing updates on social media or to reporters," The Associated Press reported Tuesday. The freeze extends to "task orders and work assignments," an EPA contracting officer indicated, and ProPublica reported the move "could affect a significant part of the agency's budget allocations and even threaten to disrupt core operations ranging from toxic cleanups to water quality testing."
Myron Ebell, who was tasked with running the EPA transition for Trump's administration, said the freeze was enacted to ensure the new administration has a say in any regulations, hiring, or contracts moving forward, as they await the confirmation of Trump's pick for EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt. Ebell said administrations prior to Trump have taken similar actions. "This may be a little wider than some previous administrations, but it's very similar to what others have done," he said.
An employee of the EPA, however, told ProPublica that he has "never seen anything like it in nearly a decade with the agency." The EPA employee said it is not yet clear how long the suspension will last.