What does the Environmental Protection Agency have to hide from the public? That is the question Senate Republicans asked in a recently released report alleging a culture of “secrecy and evasion” within the agency since President Obama took office.
“The Obama Administration has advanced the most aggressive, far-left environmental agenda ever and developed the most secretive, behind-closed-doors way of doing it. And that’s not by accident,” said Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, the top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.
The report details instances where the EPA “has purposefully been unresponsive to [Freedom of Information Act] requests, oftentimes redacting information the public has a right to know; and mismanaged its electronic records system such that federal records have been jeopardized.” Moreover, Republicans took special aim at the use of alias and private email accounts by top agency officials to conduct official business.
“The Committee’s investigation reveals that under the leadership of Lisa P. Jackson, EPA developed a culture of secrecy and evasion, which has since allowed them to hide their actions from the public and from Congress,” reads the report by committee Republicans.
“[T]he Agency has steadfastly ignored its constitutional obligation to subject itself to Congressional oversight, apparently in an effort to prevent the public from knowing what is going on behind closed doors.”
Last year, The Daily Caller News Foundation reported that former EPA administrator Lisa Jackson was using an alias email account under the name “Richard Windsor.” Further reporting revealed that she also used that account to correspond with environmental activists.
Jackson’s alias account was discovered by Competitive Enterprise Institute Senior Fellow Chris Horner, who learned of the existence of the alias email while writing a book.
“By now, in a rational world, the continuing efforts to dismiss these clear outrages would be shamed into demands for full disclosure and accountability,” Horner told TheDCNF. “Then again, there are reasons the administration has taken so many, often unlawful and it appears possibly criminal steps to keep what they’re up to from prying taxpayer eyes.”
However, Senate Democrats downplayed Jackson’s use of an official email account by pointing out that former EPA administrators also used alias email accounts. Furthermore, the EPA had previously argued that EPA administrators are assigned two agency email accounts: a public one and an internal one. This is to handle the high volume of emails the administrator’s account is bombarded with every year.