Is anyone shocked anymore? Is it a surprise at how this administration conducts its affairs? Now, it’s the Environmental Protection Agency that picks and chooses who pays and who doesn’t and guess how that turned out?
Before I divulge those findings (but you already know, don’t you?), let me tell you that as part of my job, I have dealt with the EPA in numerous situations. Being in the environmental field for Suffolk County, the EPA oversaw and approved our program. I only dealt with Region 2 which covers New York/New Jersey, so I can only comment on this area. Their headquarters are in New York City and I have been to numerous meetings, have taken all the classes they offered, and corresponded with them via e-mails and phone calls. These are some of the dumbest motherf*ckers around. And let me add, when I posed a question and they didn’t know the answer, they would tell me they have to call Washington and they’ll get back to me on it. They’ve never gotten back to me. I have more stories but, you’ll get bored and I’ll get pissed.
So, on to those findings. Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from “green” groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute. Surprised? Me, neither. The CEI had reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups. Their mission was to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit. For 92 percent of requests from green groups, the EPA cooperated by waiving fees for the information. Those requests came from such groups as the Natural Resources Defense Council, EarthJustice, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, The Waterkeeper Alliance, Greenpeace, Southern Environmental Law Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.
CEI, on the other hand, had its requests denied 93 percent of the time. One request was denied because CEI failed to express its intent to disseminate the information to the general public. The rest were denied because the agency said CEI “failed to demonstrate that the release of the information requested significantly increases the public understanding of government operations or activities.” Doesn’t that sound great? Try going on the EPA’s website and check out their regulations (a usual function of mine) and see if they “increase the public’s understanding” of their operations. Probably written by asshole lawyers with their ties too tight who never worked in the field.
Moving on. Similarly, requests from conservative groups Judicial Watch and National Center for Public Policy Research were approved half the time, and all requests from Franklin Center and the Institute for Energy Research were denied.
Do you know how we handled FOIL requests to make sure their would be no problems? We waived fees for everyone equally! Maybe, the feds could learn something from the little guy. Question is: do they want to?