Agency promises to satisfy “Richard Windsor” FOIA request…in the 22nd century!
To recap: In 2012, I discovered that ex-EPA administrator Lisa Jackson used an alias email persona, known as “Richard Windsor,” in an obvious attempt to evade scrutiny under transparency laws. After a more limited request for certain “war on coal” emails, CEI then submitted a FOIA request for all emails to and from Mr. Windsor/Administrator Jackson. However, EPA has gone to extraordinary lengths to dodge its responsibilities to fulfill the request–despite the Obama administration’s promise to be “the most transparent ever.”
Indeed, CEI has endured multiple rounds of EPA obfuscation. After reversing two absurd delaying maneuvers on administrative appeal, EPA agreed to process an unprecedentedly low 100 records a month—over the course of the next 100 years!
The agency denied our appeal of that insanity, and then, when we appealed heavy-handed redactions, informed us it would no longer consider appeals (that it expressly invited) until wrapping up production around the year 2114.
Of course, this is ridiculous at face value. Agencies cannot impose undue delay in producing records; yet we will all be long dead before EPA finishes. Without a doubt, EPA is being unreasonable. Such a schedule makes a mockery of transparency laws, not to mention empty political promises re: same.
Compounding matters immensely, EPA claims it is holding several other CEI FOIA requests hostage until it completes processing this century-long production. And it’s not just CEI—EPA is refusing to process a request from another group that’s not even from me! Rather, it’s simply another group on behalf of which I have made requests. Thus, the agency is using its blatant, beyond flippant disregard of its transparency responsibilities as a justification for further skirting of its FOIA duties.
Enough is enough is enough. Yesterday, CEI sued in the federal district court of the District of Columbia, in order to compel the agency to comply with FOIA on a reasonable basis.
Given the strenuous efforts EPA has taken to hide these emails, and what we have learned to date, it is more than fair to assume this is more than petulant retaliation, but hiding something awfully damning.
Chris Horner is the author of The Liberal War on Transparency
P.S. Here’s the “Richard Windsor in the 22nd Century” poster from above, rendered in full size–