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EPA Goes Silent On Document Request After Asking White House for Guidance
Vitter, Issa-led committees release an email showing the EPA was willing to comply with congressional requests in June; After communicating with the White House, EPA becomes unresponsive and vague
November 8, 2013

Today, U.S. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.), top Republican on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, released an email from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the White House, which asked for guidance on responding to a congressional request from Sen. Vitter and Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, submitted last April. The two lawmakers had requested specific documents and communications related to the Richard Windsor alias and other ongoing EPA matters. After a senior EPA official sent an email to a top White House advisor, EPA did not comply with the congressional request. Vitter now wants to know why.

"The most non-transparent administration in history has proven itself yet again," Vitter said. "After the email to the White House, EPA's behavior suspiciously makes a u-turn in their willingness to cooperate and provide these documents to Congress. This goes against transparency laws, and also goes against Gina McCarthy's word she gave us during her confirmation process this summer. Whatever is in these emails, the Obama Administration is sure going to great lengths to keep it hidden."

In April, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) and the Senate EPW Committee requested documents and communications related to the Richard Windsor alias email account, as well as other ongoing EPA matters. The request identified 106 specific emails all previously released in redacted form pursuant to FOIA requests. While the EPA had admitted the documents had been identified and reviewed and should be delivered shortly, EPA suddenly reversed course in June 2013 and stalled. EPW and OGR sent a follow-up letter in June, warning EPA that their failure to cooperate could force the issuance of a subpoena. Read more here.

Yesterday, Chairman Issa issued a subpoena that requires EPA to produce communications and documents between EPA and White House officials regarding the Agency's response to congressional requests, as well as the documents originally requested in the April 10, 2013 letter from Sen. Vitter and Rep. Issa.

During Gina McCarthy's nomination hearing to be EPA Administrator, Vitter and the EPW Republicans made five very clear transparency requests. One of the requests was for the same 106 unredacted emails. McCarthy agreed to this; however, the documents were never fully released. EPW only received five documents. Read more here.

 

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November 2013 Press Releases

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