The Trump transition team ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to halve the number of staff allowed to attend an environmental conference in Alaska last week, according to conference organizers.
The Alaska Forum on the Environment traditionally sees heavy participation from the EPA, with 34 agency employees originally committed to attend this year’s event. While transition spokesperson Doug Ericksen told Alaska Public Media that the restriction was meant to cut travel costs, some of the agency officials originally slated to attend live “blocks away” from the conference in Anchorage.
“We got a phone call from the local office of EPA, and we were informed that EPA was directed by the White House transition team to minimize their participation in the Alaska Forum on the Environment to the extent possible,” Alaska Forum on the Environment Director Kurt Eilo said.
The agency’s last-minute change of plans highlighted the concerns of many conference attendees over the future of EPA programs dealing with climate change, tribal issues and other Alaska-specific concerns.