The partisan pattern established by the IRS scandal–conservative groups being singled out for mistreatment–seems to have a corollary at the Environmental Protection Agency. Green groups had FOIA fees routinely waived by the agency while those from conservative groups did not.
The Conservative Enterprise Institute examined FOIA requests made between Jan. 2012 and spring 2013. What they found was a pattern. Green groups including “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” had fees waived 92 percent of the time.
By contrast, FOIA requests made by the Franklin Center or the Institute for Energy Research were all denied. Requests made by CEI were denied 93 percent of the time. Judicial Watch and the National Center for Public Policy Research had their requests denied 50 percent of the time.
Asked for comment on the situation, Benjamin Cole of the Institute for Energy Research said his group’s requests for information were met with “indifference, delays, and outright denials.” Cole called it the “president’s bureaucratic blockade.”
“This has been the most closed and unaccountable government since transparency laws were enacted. And when the administration does provide answers — either in the form of document production or official statements — they are either heavily redacted, intentionally misleading, or outright lies.”
The partisan treatment of groups by the EPA comes at a time when the administration is already reeling from the revelation that the IRS had given extra scrutiny to groups with a conservative outlook. The administration has so far claimed that was the result of bad decision making by low-level employees. No statement on the partisan behavior at the EPA has been issued yet.