"Looking at FOIA fee waivers, it's clear that EPA favors far-left environmentalist groups over conservative think tanks, but today's lawsuit is just another example demonstrating EPA's discrimination extends toward States, as well," said Vitter. "We recently got the EPA to agree to completely retrain their staff on FOIA practices and issue new agency-wide guidance on FOIA practices following completion of the Inspector General investigation. However, their obstructionist tactics while trying to bend FOIA laws remains a problem, especially when they seek to block Attorneys General who clearly are acting to advance the public interest."
On August 8, 2012, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt led a bipartisan group of 12 Attorneys General in a FOIA request in response to multiple "sue-and-settle" lawsuits filed by environmental organizations in the previous three years that led to the EPA's commitment to sweeping new regulations. These agreements were made without input from States, local communities, or land owners. EPA denied the AGs' FOIA request and petitions for reconsideration.
Earlier this year, Sen. Vitter and U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), along with Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) launched an investigation into the EPA's practice of frequently granting fee waivers for FOIA requests to environmental groups, but rarely granting them to conservative think tanks, States, and local entities. Often times, when the EPA denies the fee waiver, it can kill the request because the fees are too expensive for groups to afford. Click here to read more.