The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) canceled plans for three of its scientists to speak on climate change at a conference in Rhode Island on Monday.
Scientists Autumn Oczkowski, Rose Martin and Emily Shumchenia were set to speak across different events and were expected to present a 400-page report on climate change at a conference hosted by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, which is funded by EPA.
Oczkowski was expected to address climate change among other issues affecting the bay in a keynote address, according to the Times. Martin and Shumchenia were expected to directly tackle the subject on a panel called "The Present and Future Biological Implications of Climate Change."
An EPA official told Tom Borden, the program director for the conference, that the scientists would be present, but would not be allowed to speak.
The move is concerning to some in the science community who question how EPA will approach future research on climate change.
Monday’s conference was intended to drew attention to the health of Narragansett Bay, the largest estuary in New England and a key to the region’s tourism and fishing industries. The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is one of 28 state-based programs funded through EPA’s $26 million National Estuary Program.
The program is not included in EPA Administer Scott Pruitt’s 2018 budget.
Several scientists who work closely with EPA’s Environmental Effects Research Laboratory in Rhode Island said EPA officials had spent two days the prior week reviewing the lab’s work
The New York Times suggests the move is another step to censor research and discussion about climate change, as the EPA has removed most mentions of the words “climate change” from its website.