CEI Sues EPA Over Stonewalling Records Request

WASHINGTON, April 9 –  The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit today against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to compel the agency to produce text messages sent by government officials, as required by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). In December 2013, CEI requested the text message correspondence associated with a handful of top EPA officials and current Administrator Gina McCarthy when she was in charge of plans to regulate or tax carbon dioxide.

EPA previously acknowledged destroying all of Ms. McCarthy’s copies of her text message correspondence on her EPA-assigned account. This request sought her EPA colleagues’ copies, which EPA has stonewalled.

“This lawsuit challenges, yet another in a pattern of EPA, moves to block access to public records,” said CEI Senior Fellow Christopher Horner. “CEI’s FOIA request will reveal whether each and every one of Ms. McCarthy’s text messages to EPA colleagues were indeed ‘personal’, as the EPA has claimed to somehow excuse their wholesale destruction, or whether EPA has been destroying copies of officials’ use of this alternative to email. Under the law, there is no distinction between the two. If the latter is the case, it is unimaginable that EPA can proceed with its agenda without reconstructing the widespread document destruction and restoring the legally required record.”

Note: The core of lawsuit is EPA’s erratic application of statutorily provided fee waiver, which as Horner has documented previously, the agency has been far more likely to deny for certain right-of-center groups. (See: Congressmen demand end to EPA’s IRS-like bias against conservative, state/local FOIA requestors.)