In this May 16, 2018 photo, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before a Senate Appropriations subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies on budget on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Environmental Protection Agency reversed course Tuesday and allowed a reporter for The Associated Press to cover a meeting on water contaminants after she was earlier barred and shoved out of the building by a security guard. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

EPA blocks some media from summit, then reverses course

May 22, 2018 - 1:09 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The Environmental Protection Agency reversed course Tuesday and allowed a reporter for The Associated Press to cover a meeting on water contaminants after she was earlier grabbed by the shoulders and shoved out of the building by a security guard.

The AP journalist, Ellen Knickmeyer, said that Lincoln Ferguson, an adviser to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, called to apologize for how she was manhandled and that officials were looking into it. He invited her for the meeting's afternoon session.

At least two other news organizations — CNN and E&E News, which covers energy and environmental issues, had also been initially barred from the event.

"We are pleased that the EPA has reconsidered its decision and will now allow AP to attend the remainder of today's meeting," AP spokeswoman Lauren Easton said. "The AP looks forward to informing the public of the important discussions at the water contaminants summit."

Some other news outlets were allowed to cover the meeting from the start, and a portion of it was livestreamed.

EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox, who had earlier told Knickmeyer that there was no room for her at the event, did not immediately return messages seeking comment.

CNN said in a statement that its reporter also was turned away from covering the event "after multiple attempts to attend."

"We understand the importance of an open and free press and we hope the EPA does, too," CNN said.

The summit was on a class of chemicals present in dangerous amounts in many water systems around the country. Pruitt told about 200 people at the meeting that dealing with the contaminants is a "national priority."

Knickmeyer had attempted to attend the meeting but was told she was not the invitation list. When she asked to speak to an EPA public-affairs person, security guards grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her out of the building. She said she was not injured.