EPA blocks some media from summit, then reverses course

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.

The AP journalist, Ellen Knickmeyer, was let back into the meeting after she and reporters from at least two other news organizations had been told they could not cover the invitation-only event. CNN and E&E News, which covers energy and environment issues, had also been told their reporters could not cover the event. E&E reporter Corbin Hiar was later allowed into the meeting, too.

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.

AP Executive Editor Sally Buzbee said in a statement that "It is particularly distressing that any journalist trying to cover an event in the public interest would be forcibly removed."

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.