It turns out the IRS may not be the only branch of the federal government engaging in ideological discrimination. According to FOIA requests, the EPA waives fees for accessing public information 93% of the time for green groups friendly to the Obama administration’s environmental agenda. But 92% of the time conservative groups were charged the fee.
For 92 percent of requests from green groups, the EPA cooperated by waiving fees for the information. Those requests came from the Natural Resources Defense Council, EarthJustice, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, The Waterkeeper Alliance, Greenpeace, Southern Environmental Law Center and the Center for Biological Diversity.
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, according to documents obtained by The Washington Examiner. 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.
The federal government shouldn’t be applying these sort of standard to public information releases. The groups requesting the information shouldn’t have to justify why they want the information. The government belongs to all of us. If we want information from the government, we should get it, whatever the reason.
In fact, that is law here in North Dakota. State agencies are not allowed to ask someone making a request for information under open records laws why they want the information. And that’s as it should be. Motivations are irrelevant.
It’s appropriate to charge for the cost of requests – photocopying and other fees – because the taxpayers shouldn’t necessarily have to bear that expense. But such expenses should be evenly applied regardless of the ideology or motivations of those requesting the information.