For Immediate Release:
October 14, 2014

Contact:
Craig Richardson
Richardson@eelegal.org

WATCHDOG ORGANIZATIONS REQUEST EPA INSPECTOR GENERAL INVESTIGATE COLLUSION, IMPACT ON GHG RULES

Energy & Environmental Legal Institute, the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic request EPA IG investigate undue “green” lobby group influence on major EPA regulations


Washington, D.C. – Following in the footsteps of a recent request by Citizens for Responsible Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleging improper influence upon EPA regulations, two groups have formally requested EPA’s OIG inquire into findings released in a recent report based on FOIA revelations of Obama’s EPA colluding extensively and improperly with “green” pressure group Sierra Club on regulations pursuing a shared ideological agenda.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) sent a letter today to EPA Inspector General Arthur Elkins requesting an investigation into evidence of an improperly collusive relationship between EPA and Sierra Club, as well as Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), concerning the Agency improperly allowing these groups to direct and help write EPA regulatory policy, specifically EPA’s “war on coal”.

This follows release of information including a report by E&E Legal and FMELC piecing together hundreds of emails obtained under the Freedom of information Act (FOIA), detailing how EPA is in several ways merely an extension of an ideological pressure group. The groups also point to New York Times reporting which explaining a similar role played by NRDC, which this past weekend the Times reported is also the subject of an ongoing congressional inquiry based on other emails.

In short, the report showed how EPA stocked its senior positions with politically appointed officials from various “green” groups, who in turn provided unprecedented access to their former colleagues, affording them unlawful influence toward achieving shared, desired ends, to the detriment of other parties granted an equal right to due process and to participate under our regulatory systems grounded in the Constitution. 

This improper access and collusion taints the regulatory process and its fruits, undermines public confidence in the fairness and legitimacy of EPA regulations, and places the regulations in legal jeopardy.

The parties modeled their request on a similar if far less fulsomely supported request for inquiry in May by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, asking IG Elkins to investigate if EPA’s renewable fuel standards were unduly influenced by special interests.

“EPA’s hostility toward transparency is now well established,” said E&E Legal’s Chris Horner, the primary author of the report prompting this request. “The Inspector General even recently sent a letter to Congress, complaining that EPA bureaucrats were obstructing his investigations. While the IG needs to get to the root of the problem of EPA’s lack of transparency — EPA’s dogmatic pursuit of a political and ideological agenda — the evidence is now such that EPA’s Inspector General must pursue conflicts of interest and collusion and how they influenced EPA’s most controversial and expensive regulatory agenda, ever.”

E&E Legal and FMELC have had to turn to the courts to hold EPA to its legal transparency obligations.  Now, the combination of evidence obtained and EPA’s stonewalling demands that OIG exercise its investigative authority to obtain withheld portions of records and otherwise uncover the rest of what EPA refuses to disclose under often risible declaims of “deliberative” privilege. For now, as EPA uses every tool at its disposal to delay resolution of the groups FOIA requests, only the IG has the ability to access the rest of the relevant critical, public information.

“As the statutory watchdog of the EPA, the Inspector General ought to fully investigate if there is any undue influence on major EPA regulatory decisions,” said Dr. David Schnare, E&E Legal’s general counsel and scientist with decades of experience as an EPA employee, “With the statutory authority to view any and all documents and interview witnesses, the IG can take the next step along the path that has been charted by organizations like E&E Legal.

”

It is the request and hope of E&E Legal and FMELC that the IG take any and all necessary steps to scrutinize the propriety of what the groups have uncovered, obtain the rest of the story, and hold EPA officials accountable for their actions and provide greater transparency for the public.

“Confident of the law’s requirements and having shared what we have learned, we hope that the IG performs his statutory duty and makes these facts known with a thorough, complete and unbiased investigation,” said Horner.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

The FME Law Clinic provides litigation and research services to qualified clients. We concentrate on cases involving landmark free-market pro-environmental litigation; use of open records and data quality laws to force greater governmental accountability and transparency; and, cases that allow the Clinic to help create the next generation of free market oriented attorneys.

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

 -30-