E.P.A. Employees Spoke Out. Then Came Scrutiny of Their Email.

MSN - One Environmental Protection Agency employee spoke up at a private lunch held near the agency headquarters, saying she feared the nation might be headed toward an “environmental catastrophe.” Another staff member, from Seattle, sent a letter to Scott Pruitt, the E.P.A. administrator, raising similar concerns about the direction of the agency. A third, from Philadelphia, went to a rally where he protested against agency budget cuts.

"We have seen a lot of nefarious activities from Trump," Mr. Whitehouse said. "But hiring a fossil fuel front group that specializes in political hits and is doing F.O.I.A. investigations of your agency's own employees is a new low."

E.P.A. employees are not the only ones who have been subjects of the group's Freedom of Information Act requests. Mr. Blutstein also has sought emails and other information from at least two climate scientists, Katharine Hayhoe of Texas Tech University and Robert Kopp of Rutgers University, who worked on a sweeping government climate change report. The Trump administration cleared the report for publication earlier this year.

"They're asking for emails related to a document that has already been public and has been reviewed twice by E.P.A. and was ultimately approved by E.P.A?" Ms. Hayhoe asked. "What do they think they're going to find?"

The nonprofit arm of America Rising, known as America Rising Squared, oversees some of the group's most controversial work on climate change: deploying "trackers" to videotape activists like Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and Tom Steyer, the billionaire investor and Democratic donor.

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