Washington, D.C. – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) today demanded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provide all documents related to the agency’s preservation of text messages, as required by the Federal Records Act.
Smith’s letter follows several other Committee requests, including a letter to the EPA Office of Inspector General on November 10, 2014, and a letter to the EPA on January 27, 2015, requesting all e-mails and text messages from agency officials. On February 26, 2015, the EPA provided information to the Committee that failed to include several documents responsive to the Committee’s request, including any text messages or agency policy and procedures for the period of 2009-2012.
“Documents provided by EPA demonstrate a continued lack of transparency at the agency,” Chairman Smith wrote. “EPA responded two weeks after the Committee’s due date with information that appears to be already publicly available. The EPA failed to provide the Committee with e-mails from high-ranking officials, including Administrator Gina McCarthy, discussing text messages relating to official agency business… If EPA continues to withhold emails, text messages, and other documents from the Committee, I will have no alternative but to consider the use of compulsory process to obtain the requested documents and information.”
Chairman Smith’s letter follows other recent concerns surrounding the EPA’s lack of transparency. On March 2, 2015, a federal court issued an opinion raising concerns about the agency’s process for responding to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. According to news reports, a federal judge called the EPA’s handling of a 2012 FOIA request “suspicious.” The court found that “the agency either intentionally sought to evade the FOIA request in order to destroy documents or demonstrated extreme apathy and carelessness.”
Chairman Smith’s letter demands that EPA produce all materials responsive to the Committee’s request no later than Friday, March 13, 2015.
The full letter can be found here.