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CRS Applauds Court Ruling on EPA’s Lack of Transparency

Judge Says Group Can Seek Injunction to Stop EPA Record Destruction

Washington, D.C.—Karen Kerrigan, President of the Center for Regulatory Solutions, a project of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council, issued the following statement today, applauding a ruling by Federal District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer that could force the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop destroying agency records, including emails.

“Today’s court decision is a victory for transparency at the Environmental Protection Agency, an agency that, despite claims to be open and honest with the public, has been opaque and secretive about its harmful regulatory agenda,” Kerrigan said.  “The decision is an important step, though certainly not the final one, in the effort to force EPA to stop destroying agency records that the public has a right to see.

“As the judge said in her ruling, it was ‘implausible’ for EPA to believe and assert that none of its official records were included in the wholesale destruction of 5,000 Agency text messages,” Kerrigan continued.  “These messages came from Gina McCarthy, now the EPA Administrator, when she served as head of the air division.  Ms. McCarthy had an obligation to ensure those records were preserved.  She has an obligation now to ensure they are recovered.

“As private citizens continue to press their case, EPA must turn a new page and agree to stop destroying records.  EPA’s record of transparency and openness, despite its empty claims, has been abysmal, and its time the agency is held accountable to the public and the small businesses they regulate.”

Background

Today’s decision stems from a lawsuit filed in October 2013 by the Competitive Enterprise Institute seeking to compel EPA to stop destroying emails, a practice first discovered by the group pursuant to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request.  As CEI explained: “Those FOIA requests sought text messages from the EPA-issued personal data devices of Gina McCarthy, then head of the EPA’s Air and Radiation Office and now the agency’s Administrator, and her predecessor Lisa Jackson. CEI, for example, had asked for McCarthy’s texts on 18 specified days when she testified before Congress on energy policy matters and was seen sending texts. But EPA finally admitted all of these texts were destroyed, laying responsibility at McCarthy’s feet. McCarthy, ironically, was the EPA official charged with ensuring record management laws are followed.”

Link to decision

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