“Okay, but why is Dr. Etzel on administrative leave?”
“Like I just said, it’s very inappropriate for me to talk about personnel issues.”
“But shouldn’t she have been told why she was put on administrative leave?”
“You want me to say it again? I really can’t comment on personnel-related issues,” Darwin said.
As for Dr. Etzel? After three weeks on paid leave, she says it’s time to speak out.
“This is totally wrong, and the only people that I really report to are mothers and fathers and communities in the United States,” Dr. Etzel said. “And if EPA won’t let me tell about how children are being poisoned, I’ll just tell the mothers and fathers directly. I have that right, whether or not EPA wants me on their staff.”
Werner asked, “What if they come up later and say, ‘Well, you did these things wrong?”
“If I did, then I’ll say, ‘Okay.’ If I didn’t, then I’ll say I didn’t. You know? But I don’t know what the allegation is, so it’s very hard to know, but basically I’m a straight shooter, I’m transparent. So if I make a mistake, I own it.”
The EPA referred CBS News to a statement from chief of staff Ryan Jackson, who said that Dr. Etzel “was placed on leave to give the agency the opportunity to review allegations about the director’s leadership of the office.”
But Dr. Etzel tells us she has never been made aware of any allegations.
The EPA insists it is committed to protecting children and maintains that Dr. Etzel’s removal won’t affect its work.
In a statement to CBS News, EPA Chief of Staff Ryan Jackson said,
“Although EPA does not customarily comment on personnel matters, due to circulating misinformation, the Director of EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection was placed on leave to give the Agency the opportunity to review allegations about the Director’s leadership of the office.”
A spokesperson for the Office of Children’s Heath Protection also issued a statement:
“Children’s health is and has always been a top priority for the Trump Administration and the EPA in particular is focused on reducing lead exposure in schools, providing funds for a cleaner school bus fleet, and cleaning up toxic sites so that children have safe environments to learn and play. These are just a few of the dozens of objectives the EPA’s Office of Children’s Health will continue work on during this administration.”