EPA spokesman Jahan Wilcox said the session was invitation-only and there was no room for the AP, but did not say what criteria were used in determining which media the agency invited.
"This was simply an issue of the room reaching capacity, which reporters were aware of prior to the event".
Some other news outlets were allowed to cover the meeting from the start, and a portion of it was livestreamed.
Dealing with a slate of toxic chemicals contaminating some drinking water systems around the country is a national priority, Environmental Protection Agency chief Scott Pruitt said Tuesday. "We were able to accommodate 10 news outlets and provided a livestream for those we could not accommodate". On April 3, for instance, when Pruitt announced his intention to roll back fuel efficiency standards promulgated under the Obama administration, the EPA attempted to only allow television access to Fox News, barring other networks (Fox News alerted the other networks to this fact and established a pool allowing the other networks equal access to the event).
In internal agency emails made public as part of a Freedom of Information lawsuit by the Sierra Club, political appointees frequently discuss plans to limit public questions at events with Pruitt, as well as limit information about where and when Pruitt will be making appearances, apparently in an attempt to limit media access to the administrator.
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"Guards barred an AP reporter from passing through a security checkpoint inside the building", the AP reports. A CNN photographer saw the female journalist being shoved out of the building by a uniformed guard, and the Associated Press journalist recounted the incident to CNN immediately after it took place. E&E reported the event was open to the press, but not to reporters from the barred organizations. The CNN photographer then asked if he could enter the event and was told by security he couldn't. "We've all asked the agency's press office why we're being selectively shut out and have gotten no responses", he tweeted.
Tuesday's events add to a growing list of antagonistic exchanges between the EPA and the news media.
Sally Buzbee, executive editor of The Associated Press, said in a separate statement, "The Environmental Protection Agency's selective barring of news organizations, including the AP, from covering today's meeting is alarming and a direct threat to the public's right to know about what is happening inside their government".
"We understand the importance of an open and free press, and we hope the EPA does, too", CNN said.
Pruitt spoke Tuesday as he opened a hearing on the contaminants, known as perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl.