EPA Allegedly Plays Favorites: Waives Fees for Green Groups, Stonewalls Conservative Groups

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Before we get into the meat of this story, let’s do a quick recap of the Obama administration’s most recent scandals:

  • Testimony provided last week by the Benghazi whistleblowers has raised serious questions about the Obama administration’s actions before, during, and after the Sept. 11, 2012, terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya
  • The Internal Revenue Service admitted last week to harassing conservative groups
  • HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Friday asked companies in an industry she has an enormous amount of influence over to donate money to help implement Obamacare
  • The Department of Justice was caught Monday with at least two months worth of the Associated Press’ phone records

Needless to say, it’ll take an incredible amount of concentration and political savvy for the Obama administration to make it through the next few weeks (months maybe?).

Could things get any worse for the president and his cabinet? Maybe.

The Washington Examiner’s Michal Conger reports:

Conservative groups seeking information from the Environmental Protection Agency have been routinely hindered by fees normally waived for media and watchdog groups, while fees for more than 90 percent of requests from green groups were waived, according to requests reviewed by the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

CEI reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests sent between January 2012 and this spring from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA’s mission, and several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy for media and watchdog groups. Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for groups disseminating information for public benefit.

“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.

Most green groups, including EarthJustice, The Waterkeeper Alliance, and Greenpeace, saw their fees waived. In fact, according to the report, 92 percent of requests from green groups were waived by the EPA.

But of the requests that were denied, “the EPA said the group either didn’t respond to requests for justification of a waiver, or didn’t express intent to disseminate the information to the general public,” Conger reports, citing documents obtained by the Examiner

And here’s where things could become a headache for the Obama administration:

CEI, on the other hand, had its requests denied 93 percent of the time. One request was denied because CEI failed to express its intent to disseminate the information to the general public. 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.

“This is a clear pattern of favoritism for allied groups and a concerted campaign to make life more difficult for those deemed unfriendly,” he said, adding that he thinks the EPA is stonewalling CEI because it’s one of the few groups that tries to keep the fed agency accountable.

“The left hand of big government reaches out to give a boost to its far-left hand at every turn. Argue against more of the same, however, and prepare to be treated as if you have fewer rights.”

Exit Question – From conservative author and commentator Mark Steyn: “Where do you go to vote out the EPA?”*

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

*Mark Steyn, “After America: Get Ready For Armageddon.” (Washington, D.C: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2011) 82.

Featured image Getty Images. This post has been updated.