Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

EPA's Running Out of Time to Produce Any Documents That Back Up Pruitt's Climate Denial

Politics
EPA's Running Out of Time to Produce Any Documents That Back Up Pruitt's Climate Denial
Gage Skidmore / Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Andrea Germanos

Four weeks.


That's how long the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has to "promptly perform a search and produce the documents" in its possession that underpin Administrator Scott Pruitt's claim that human activity is not a "primary contributor" to the climate crisis, and any studies that support that assertion.

The directive comes from a federal court order, issued Friday, which smacks down the EPA's efforts to reject a FOIA request from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

The group first filed that request on March 10, 2017—that's a day after Pruitt, speaking in his official capacity, said on CNBC: "I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see."

Beryl Howell, chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, dismissed the EPA's characterization of the FOIA request as "an interrogation" with "simply a reach too far." Instead, she wrote, it was a fair request that reasonably describes the records sought and creates no undue burden, so the EPA is not legally justified in its lack of compliance.

She further noted that "EPA's strained attempt to raise an epistemological smokescreen will not work here to vade its obligations under the FOIA," and: "EPA's apparent concern about taking a position on climate change is puzzling since EPA has already taken a public position on the causes of climate change."

She added:

Particularly troubling is the apparent premise of this agency challenge to the FOIA request, namely: that the evidentiary basis for a policy or factual statement by an agency head, including about the scientific factors contributing to climate change, is inherently unknowable. Such a premise runs directly counter to "an axiom of administrative law that an agency's explanation of the basis for its decision must include 'a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made,'" and the "responsibility of the agency to explain the rationale and factual basis for its decision."

Howell also ordered the agency to finish up its search for related records by July 2 and to disclose them to PEER. She gave the agency an additional week to explain to the group its rationale for withholding any documents.

"The beauty of FOIA is that a government agency can run but ultimately can't hide," stated PEER senior counsel Paula Dinerstein. "This suit forces EPA to determine whether Mr. Pruitt's statements had a factual basis or were full of hot air."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

Marilyn Angel Wynn / Getty Images

By Christina Gish Hill

Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Former U.S. Sec. of Energy Ernest Moniz listens during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken / Getty Images for National Clean Energy Summit

By Jake Johnson

Amid reports that oil industry-friendly former Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz remains under consideration to return to his old post in the incoming Biden administration, a diverse coalition of environmental groups is mobilizing for an "all-out push" to keep Moniz away from the White House and demand a cabinet willing to boldly confront the corporations responsible for the climate emergency.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Climate change can evoke intense feelings, but a conversational approach can help. Reed Kaestner / Getty Images

Anger, anxiety, overwhelm … climate change can evoke intense feelings.


Read More Show Less
A rare North Atlantic right whale is seen off Cape Cod Bay on April 14, 2019 near Provincetown, Massachusetts. Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

An extremely rare North Atlantic right whale calf was found dead off the North Carolina coast on Friday.

Read More Show Less
Sprinklers irrigate a field of onions near a Castilian village in Spain. According to a new study, the average farm size in the EU has almost doubled since the 1960s. miguelangelortega / Moment / Getty Images

By Andrea Germanos

A new report released Tuesday details the "shocking" state of global land equality, saying the problem is worse than thought, rising, and "cannot be ignored."

Read More Show Less