The Competitive Enterprise Institute claims that the Environmental Protection Agency favored environmental groups when complying with Freedom of Information Act requests, while discriminating against business groups and lobbyists who made similiar FOIA requests.
The CEI says that public records show a pattern of the EPA waiving FOIA fees for environmental groups, while charging business groups who also made request for information on the agency's actions.
CEI reviewed FOIA requests sent during an 18 months period starting in January 2012 from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups, said CEI fellow Chris Horner, who said government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.
What CEI found was that the environmental groups had their fees waived about 90 percent of the time, while other groups had their fees waived less than 10 percent.
“This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS’ hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI fellow Chris Horner.
Horner said groups such as the Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and EarthJustice, had their fees waived in 75 out of 82 cases. EPA denied Horner’s request for fee waivers in 14 of 15 FOIA requests over this same time.
“That these denials are ritually overturned on appeal, not after I presented any new evidence or made any new point, but simply restated what was a detailed and heavily sourced legal document to begin with, reaffirms the illegitimacy of these hurdles EPA places in the way of those who cause it problems.” Horner said. “EPA’s practice is to take care of its friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information.”
To read more from CEI on this issue, please click HERE