Courts Step In Breach By Forcing EPA Agency To Release its Emails With Fossil Fuel Industry

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There is nothing like a little bit of sunlight being shined on how the US EPA Environmental Protection Agency has been dealing with fossil fuel industry leaders in forming its policies slanted to favor of their needs over the health and well being of the American peoples, that will cause the GOP some heart palpitations. Their actions cannot survive scrutiny by the public.

In December 2018, a US District Court in California ruled that EPA officials have to release its emails and other documentation regarding its dealings fossil fuel industry groups within the next 10 months.

Image result for cartoon fossil fuel industry

On January 8, 2019, Dino Grandoni of the Washington Post penned the following report, “The Energy 202: Court ruling may give environmental activists more fodder against EPA”

Excerpts:

“The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s oldest environmental organizations, led a vocal campaign to oust Scott Pruitt by helping to reveal various managerial and ethical lapses by the former Environmental Protection Agency chief.”

“Now with a recent court decision, the group hopes it can apply that same level of scrutiny to Pruitt’s replacement.”

“In a Dec. 26 ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California ordered the release of about 20,000 emails exchanged between industry groups and 25 Trump officials —  including acting chief Andrew Wheeler (former coal industry lobbyist)— within the next 10 months, along with calendars and other documents.”

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“With that 10-month timeline starting as soon as the federal government fully reopens, the decision means the Sierra Club and other environmental activists expect to learn a lot more about Wheeler’s past work and that of other Trump EPA appointees over the coming year. The first batch of emails to be released, for example, concern communication between the agency and coal giant Murray Energy, for whom Wheeler once worked as a lobbyist, along with Wheeler’s former employer Faegre Baker Daniels Consulting.”

“The Sierra Club sued to have the records released after the EPA failed to fulfill the Freedom of Information Act requests on time. It successfully argued in court that documents concerning Wheeler, who President Trump said he wants to nominate to run the agency permanently, should be made public as soon as possible.”

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“This is a big win for government transparency and accountability,” said Elena Saxonhouse, senior attorney at the Sierra Club. “FOIA really requires you to get these documents to requesters on a time frame where they’re still useful.”

“The court rejected arguments from the EPA that it is too overwhelmed with FOIA requests to respond by the legal deadlines. Inquires to the EPA’s Office of the Administrator, for example, jumped from 203 during fiscal 2016 to 1,045 during the following 12-month period, after Trump took office. The agency had initially asked the court to have until 2022 — halfway into the next presidential term — to complete the requests.”

“The Sierra Club is also seeking documents from Bill Wehrum, the former corporate lawyer chosen by Trump to head the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation; Nancy Beck, a former chemical industry lobbying now serving as one of the top officials at the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention; and Albert “Kell” Kelly, a former head of a task force meant to revitalize the EPA’s toxic-cleanup program who once received a lifetime ban from the banking industry.”

The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stands in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty)
The headquarters of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)  in Washington, D.C. Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

“The 127-year-old environmental group has emerged as one of the Trump administration’s fiercest critics on environmental issues. During Pruitt’s time in office, the Sierra Club’s flurry of public-records requests uncovered a cozy relationship between Pruitt and business executives in industries the EPA regulates.”

“Previous emails the group obtained revealed that Pruitt used government resources to try to purchase a used mattress from Trump’s Washington hotel and to secure a Chick-fil-A franchise for his wife.”

“Those and other news stories about Pruitt’s ethical and managerial lapses led the White House to ask for Pruitt’s resignation in July.”

Acting EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler / (Ting Shen/Reuters)

“U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth D. Laporte cited Pruitt’s departure — and Wheeler’s subsequent elevation to the top of the agency — as among the “persuasive reasons for the urgency” of the Sierra Club’s requests for documents pertaining to him.”

U.S. greenhouse gas emissions spiked in 2018: Greenhouse gas emissions in the United States jumped 3.4 percent last year, the latest in dire findings that come as scientists are warning the world to slash emissions in order to combat the impact of climate change.

It couldn’t happen at a worse time: The findings from independent economic research firm Rhodium Group mean there’s an even lower chance the nation can meet standards set by the 2015 Paris climate accord, The Post’s Chris Mooney and Brady Dennis report. “The findings also underscore how the world’s second-largest emitter, once a global leader in pushing for climate action, has all but abandoned efforts to mitigate the effects of a warming world,” Mooney and Dennis write.”

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“Why it happened: “The sharp emissions rise was fueled primarily by a booming economy, researchers found. But the increase, which could prove to be the second-largest in the past 20 years, probably would not have been as stark without Trump administration rollbacks, said Trevor Houser, a partner at Rhodium.”

Link to entire article:The Energy 202Court ruling may give environmental activists more  fodder against EPA…

4 comments

    • Dear Hugh,

      This was a milestone delivered to us by the courts. The other court case decided in favor of “We the People” is the one against Exxon Mobile which has been ordered to produce all emails/ documents going back 40 years regarding its stance on climate change. This case opens the door for more lawsuits along the lines of the tobacco and asbestos industries.

      This will do more to move fossil fuel industry’s executives’ attitudes towards ending its promotion of the denial of climate change issues than past efforts.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

    • Dear Keith,

      As you said, these 2 court rulings will make a difference. As fossil fuel companies start to field lawsuits like the tobacco and asbestos industries, their executives may be moved to back away from its marketing campaign of denial.

      Hugs, Gronda

      Like

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