ThinkProgress has reported that employees working for the Department of Energy’s solar program have been placed under a social media blackout. According to the email received by ThinkProgress, those working for the solar program have been forbidden from speaking about their work on any private or professional social media account.
The email allegedly came from Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Steven Chalk. An employee of the solar program which is commonly referred to as Sunshot has confirmed the email’s authenticity.
‘I want to share that we are PROHIBITED from any social media post (from personal or business handles) regarding your work, attendance at any meeting, etc until further notice, per Steve Chalk, acting EE-1.’
When ThinkProgress called Chalk’s office, they were told that he has been prohibited from speaking to members of the press until the department has been fully staffed with the Trump administration’s appointees.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy said that she did not know anything about the directive and said it was not a department-wide policy.
‘It was not a departmental directive. I don’t know what EERE might be doing on their own. We are business as normal throughout the department.’
ThinkProgress reported that multiple sources within the EERE are concerned about the future of their jobs, considering the Trump administration’s strong emphasis on fossil fuels. Those fears may be well-founded as last week it was reported that the entire EERE team, which includes Sunshot, was targeted as part of the proposed budget cuts.
However, the spokesperson ThinkProgress spoke with said that their public affairs team had met with members of Trump’s staff and were told that there would be no such cuts.
The Sunshot employee who provided the email, and wishes to remain anonymous, said that the Sunshot team had not met with any members of Trump’s staff. Sunshot’s website has not posted any new content since Trump took office.
Sunshot provides solar-related grants, energy efficiency, electric vehicle, and wind energy funding. Their website claims that the $12 billion taxpayer investment has generated $230 billion worth of economic activity and has represented a 20 percent return on investment.
One interesting thing about this alleged order is the timing of it. It comes to light at the same time that numerous federal agencies have set up rogue Twitter accounts feature such gems as:
‘Can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS. You can take our official twitter, but you’ll never take our free time!’
Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS.
You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!
— NOT ALT WORLD (@NotAltWorld) January 25, 2017
Perhaps the email’s inclusion of the phrase “from personal or business handles” was an attempt to prevent a rogue Sunshot account.