Environmental Defense Fund Files Lawsuit against EPA for More Failures to Release Public Records

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed a lawsuit to compel the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to release public records about the Clean Power Plan, super-polluting “glider” trucks, methane pollution from oil and gas production, and the agency’s communication with external law firms.

EDF requested the records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) as part of our ongoing effort to protect transparency and accountability about federal activities that affect public health and the environment.

EPA failed to release the requested records, as required by law. So EDF filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

“These records bear directly on the Trump EPA’s decision-making and enforcement priorities, including whether the agency is upholding its obligation to protect American communities from dangerous pollution,” said EDF attorney Ben Levitan. “The American public has a legal right to see these records. Our lawsuit is necessary to make sure that they can.”

This is the seventh time EDF has had to sue the Trump administration to access records about threats to public health and the environment.

The lawsuit covers four different FOIA requests submitted by EDF. In each case, EPA’s statutory deadline to provide records is several months overdue.

  • The first request, submitted to EPA almost 17 months ago, seeks correspondence between certain EPA officials and representatives of external law firms. EDF submitted the request based on news reports that attorneys at major law firms representing polluters might be tasked with drafting regulatory loopholes that would benefit their clients.
  • The second request, submitted to EPA more than a year ago, seeks records about industry compliance with limits on pollution of methane and volatile organic compounds during oil and gas production. The records will provide key information relevant to EPA’s current effort to weaken these pollution limits.
  • The third request, submitted to EPA more than 10 months ago, seeks records about EPA’s review of the Clean Power Plan — America’s only nationwide limit on carbon pollution from existing power plants — at the direction of President Trump. EPA’s proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan was “based on the outcome of that review,” but the agency has not released any information about how it conducted the review or what conclusions it reached.
  • The fourth request, submitted to EPA almost seven months ago, seeks records about the number of super-polluting “glider” trucks that manufacturers plan to build. These trucks do not meet modern pollution standards. The Trump EPA has repeatedly sought to roll back any pollution limits for these super-polluting freight trucks.

Tycko & Zavareei LLP is representing EDF in this case.

You can find more information about EDF’s FOIA requests on our website.

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