EPA Sued Over Failure to Release Correspondence With Heartland Institute
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is being sued for its "unlawful and unreasonable delay" in responding to requests for information about the agency's communications with the Heartland Institute, according to a complaint by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).
The lawsuit centers around the EDF and SELC's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for communications between the EPA and the Heartland Institute in August and October of 2017, respectively.
The requests were made after Heartland Institute Communications Director Jim Lakely said last July, "The White House and the Environmental Protection Agency have reached out to the Heartland Institute to help identify scientists who could constitute a red team, and we've been happy to oblige."
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, a climate change denier who has close ties to the fossil fuel industry, has long insisted on a nationally publicized "red team-blue team" debate that would pit climate skeptics against scientists who accept the facts about global warming. However, news emerged this week that White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly has reportedly put a stop to Pruitt's plan.
According to the complaint, filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia, the EPA acknowledged both requests and asked for some initial clarification, but has subsequently stopped communicating with SELC and provided vague responses to EDF's outreach that do not indicate any expectation of near-term progress on EDF's FOIA request.
There certainly appears to be some—and even extensive—contact between the EPA and the Heartland Institute. As seen below, the complaint states that the EPA's own search for correspondence between agency employees and Heartland yielded between 200 and 600 records.
The complaint by the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Environmental Defense Fund
Under the law, all federal agencies are required to respond to a FOIA request within 20 business days.
"EPA's efforts to promote climate change deniers and undermine peer-reviewed science behind closed doors is not only a failure of its mission, it is illegal," Kym Hunter, an attorney for the SELC, said in a statement. "The public has a clear and protected right to know what the EPA is doing and with whom they are communicating, including those pushing a climate-denier agenda."
The Heartland Institute has been labeled as "the primary American organization pushing climate change skepticism." Frontline reported that the think tank sent out 25,000 copies of its book, Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming, and an accompanying 10-minute DVD to 25,000 science teachers.
"Even as Americans face growing risks from climate change, Scott Pruitt continues to stonewall common-sense solutions and deny decades of mounting scientific evidence that the problem is real and serious," said Ben Levitan, an attorney for the EDF, in a statement. "Americans have a right to know who is influencing Pruitt's decisions, and who is shaping the agenda at the agency in charge of protecting our health and safety."
Pruitt’s Climate Change Debates Nixed by Kelly https://t.co/bQ6K1JyGQk @ewg @EnvAm @EnvDefenseFund @greenpeaceusa… https://t.co/JY8SSTpAZ0— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1520865040.0
People across New England witnessed a dramatic celestial event Sunday night.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By David Reichmuth
Over the last month, I've seen a number of opinion articles attacking electric vehicles (EVs). Sadly, this comes as no surprise: now that the Biden administration is introducing federal policies to accelerate the roll out of electric vehicles, we were bound to see a reaction from those that oppose reducing climate changing emissions and petroleum use.
The majority of EVs sold in 2020 were models with a starting price (Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price) under $40,000 and only a fifth of models had a starting price over $60,000.
On Friday, China set out an economic blueprint for the next five years, which was expected to substantiate the goal set out last fall by President Xi Jinping for the country to reach net-zero emissions before 2060 and hit peak emissions by 2030.
The Great Trail in Canada is recognized as the world's longest recreational trail for hiking, biking, and cross-country skiing. Created by the Trans Canada Trail (TCT) and various partners, The Great Trail consists of a series of smaller, interconnected routes that stretch from St. John's to Vancouver and even into the Yukon and Northwest Territories. It took nearly 25 years to connect the 27,000 kilometers of greenway in ways that were safe and accessible to hikers. Now, thanks to a new partnership with the Canadian Paralympic Committee and AccessNow, the TCT is increasing accessibility throughout The Great Trail for people with disabilities.
Trans Canada Trail and AccessNow partnership for AccessOutdoors / Trails for All project. Mapping day at Stanley Park Seawall in Vancouver, British Columbia with Richard Peter. Alexa Fernando<p>This partnership also comes at a time when access to outdoor recreation is more important to Canadian citizens than ever. <a href="https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/200527/dq200527b-eng.htm" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Studies from the spring of 2020</a> indicate that Canadian's <a href="https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/moneytalk-mental-health-during-covid-19-1.1567633" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mental health has worsened</a> since the onset of social distancing protocols due to COVID-19. </p><p>The <a href="https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/coronavirus/in-depth/safe-activities-during-covid19/art-20489385" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Mayo Clinic</a> lists hiking, biking, and skiing as safe activities during COVID-19. Their website explains, "When you're outside, fresh air is constantly moving, dispersing these droplets. So you're less likely to breathe in enough of the respiratory droplets containing the virus that causes COVID-19 to become infected."</p><p>TCT leadership took this into consideration when embarking on the accessibility project. McMahon explains that there has never been a more important time to bring accessibility to the great outdoors: "Canadians have told us that during these difficult times, they value access to natural spaces to stay active, take care of their mental health, and socially connect with others while respecting physical distancing and public health directives. This partnership is incredibly important especially now as trails have become a lifeline for Canadians."</p><p>Together, these organizations are paving the way for better physical and mental health among all Canadians. To learn more about the TCT's mission and initiatives, check out their <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/stories/" target="_blank">trail stories</a> and <a href="https://thegreattrail.ca/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/TCT_2020-Donor-Impact-Report_EN_8.5x14-web.pdf" target="_blank">2020 Impact Report</a>.</p>