Vitter: EPA Obstructs Congressional Oversight of Politicized FOIA Fee Waiver Process
May 27, 2014
U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works Committee, today sent a letter to Gina McCarthy, Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), following up on a congressional request for the Agency to produce documents related to EPA's fee waiver process under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Vitter and others have raised concerns that the Agency's process to decide which organizations receive fee waivers for document requests is politically motivated.
"Allegations that EPA has politicized the fee waiver process when outside groups submit FOIA requests seems a lot more likely since EPA hasn't even produced a single document in the past year," Vitter said. "Either way, congressional oversight and increased transparency is obviously needed. If they aren't hiding any wrongdoing from the American public, then why is EPA refusing to help Congress in its oversight responsibilities?"
The Senators and U.S. Representative requested that EPA provide all FOIA fee waiver requests submitted to EPA and all response letters from EPA to FOIA fee waiver requestors, between January 21, 2009 and May 16, 2013, including all responses to appeals. As of yet, EPA has not complied with the original request. Currently, the EPA Office of Inspector General is conducting a similar investigation into the Agency's FOIA fee waiver process.
Last year, EPW Republicans produced a series of charts, which highlight the discrepancy of fee waivers going to various environmental groups versus conservative organizations and state and local entities. Click here to view the charts.