For Immediate Release – July 29, 2013
Contact: Craig Richardson, Executive Director, American Tradition Institute
Citing Career Sources, Internal Screen Shots, ATI FOIA Requests Probe Re-Elect Factors Behind Fracking Reversal, Political Interference Driving EPA Agenda
Washington, D.C. — The American Traditional Institute (ATI), joined by the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC), filed two requests under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) after being provided with credible information, by two separate career employees of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), indicating electoral considerations and political intervention drove the Obama Administration’s decision to reverse its campaign against the current boom in hydraulic fracturing. As ATI wrote to EPA, this information suggests not only that the reprieve is thus only likely to last until other political needs arise, but also that it is politics that are driving other aspects of the administration’s campaign to suppress production of America’s most abundant domestic energy sources.
This information includes extended discussion, and direction where to look, by one source close to a field team (working near Dimock, Pennsylvania) which the person claims was interfered with, co-incident with the 2012 election campaign heating up and the Obama campaign’s need to sustain this rare current economic success. Another source has provided screen shots from the false-identity email account of ‘Richard Windsor’, created for former administrator Lisa Jackson, showing that indeed a group ‘HQ-Dimock’ was established, a rare substantive topic among otherwise administrative discussion groups. It is heavy with lawyers and members of Lisa Jackson’s inner political circle.
“These two EPA employees appear credible; one we have established is quite reliable and the other was referred to us by a highly-regarded and well-known academic scientist” said Chris Horner, ATI Senior Fellow, FMELC attorney and author of The Liberal War On Transparency, who filed the request on behalf of the organizations. “One of the EPA employee’s information, while not presenting evidence of any problem with fracking, is however quite striking evidence of political interference with career employees. The other’s information proves that the issue drew uniquely high-level political attention.”
The Obama administration’s apparent embrace of fracking, or at least its economic and therefore political benefits, was itself striking. In 2009, Alan B. Krueger, Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy and Chief Economist at the U.S. Department of Treasury, testifying before the U.S. Senate’s Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure
, informed Congress of the administration’s position that the U.S. “overproduc
[es]” oil and also gas, and vowed to curtail domestic production of both. It then set about to do so.
The Obama Administration not only argued against fracking from the point of view of “overproduction,” but also desperately touted supposed public health threats, which it repeatedly had to walk back. But its commitment to stifle the nascent boom was inescapable. Until it wasn’t. And, as indicated by the evidence as noted in these FOIA requests, until it is stifled yet again, whiplashing policy which can only bring negative economic consequences
The two EPA career employees indicate that the decision for the fracking reversal as the Presidential campaign geared-up. – such that it was no longer treated a la coal and oil production – was politically motivated in that such a reversal would both allow much needed economic benefits to continue and also provide the Administration with “cover” for its war on coal.
“As we state in our FOIA requests, this is not evidence of a problem with fracking but evidence of political intervention, apparently with electoral needs in mind, only,” noted Horner. “Such decisions, as we also point out, are subject to reversal when the politicians find they have different needs. And the public should know if that’s how things are being done at EPA, and in this White House,” he added.
One FOIA request seeks certain e-mails, text messages, or instant messages of three specified EPA field staff which are to, from or make reference to the White House or EPA HQ. The second FOIA request focuses on emails sent as part of the ‘HQ-Dimock’ discussion group. Both requests cover the seven-month period from December 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012.
“If evidence exists of demonstrable politics behind major EPA actions, as information from these two EPA sources suggest, it certainly will help clarify the EPA’s public health/environmental bombast, decision-making, and all other claims for the public and lawmakers who have to sign off on EPA’s agenda,” said Horner. “These FOIA requests, therefore, seek to provide some insight about political direction of key policy issues with enormous economic impacts, something the public has a right to know,” he added.
One of the two EPA employees who provided the information to ATI explained why they are coming forward:
I have for over a year now worked within the system to try and make right the injustice and apparent unethical acts I witnessed. (I have not been alone in this effort.) I took an oath when I became a federal employee that I assume very solemnly. Additionally there is a Code of Conduct that was once displayed for all to see, that I also believe and ascribe to. So as a matter of conscience, I know [sic] believe it is my responsibility to make public what I believe are patently unethical and possibility illegal acts conducted by EPA management that manifestly depart from ethics, stands and laws under which EPA operates.
American Tradition Institute
(ATI) is a 501 (c) (3) public policy research and public interest litigation foundation advocating restoration of science and free-market principles on environmental issues, including air and water quality and regulation, responsible land use, natural resource management, energy development, property rights, and principles of stewardship.