Just when we thought it was safe to turn the news on again, a new scandal is brewing in the Obama administration, this one involving the Environmental Protection Agency. It has every possibility of being as big as the IRS scandal, because just like that one, it centers on administration officials playing favorites.
At issue is the waiver of fees for Freedom of Information Act, commonly called FOIA, requests. FOIA fees are supposed to be summarily waived in all instances where the information will be released to the general public, such as the press and government watchdog groups.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute reviewed FOIA requests received by the EPA from January 2012 to the spring of 2013, according to The Washington Examiner and the results were startling.
“This is as clear an example of disparate treatment as the IRS’ hurdles selectively imposed upon groups with names ominously reflecting an interest in, say, a less intrusive or biased federal government,” said CEI fellow Chris Horner to the Examiner.
The Examiner’s Michal Conger reported:
For 92 percent of requests from green groups, the EPA cooperated by waiving fees for the information. Those requests came from 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.
Those “green” groups that were charged a fee either didn’t indicate that the information being requested would be disseminated to the public or failed to respond to the agency’s request to justify the fee waiver.
CEI received almost the exact opposite results — 93 percent of their requests for fee waivers to the EPA were denied. One, admittedly, because CEI failed to note that the information would be disseminated to the public. However, The Examiner reported:
The rest were denied because the agency said CEI “failed to demonstrate that the release of the information requested significantly increases the public understanding of government operations or activities.” Similarly, requests from conservative groups Judicial Watch and National Center for Public Policy Research were approved half the time, and all requests from Franklin Center and the Institute for Energy Research were denied.
“Their practice is to take care of their friends and impose ridiculous obstacles to deny problematic parties’ requests for information,” said Horner.
The White House’s Chicago-style politics served as a blueprint for all the agencies under its control — the IRS, HHS, EPA, Justice and Labor to name a few. As Sen. Marco Rubio noted in a floor speech Wednesday, “These are the tactics of the third world.”
The president is turning the United States into a banana republic.