Two conservative groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for instant- message records for several top officials, including former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s “Richard Windsor” account and Gina McCarthy, President Obama’s choice to succeed Jackson.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute and the American Tradition Institute have sued for IM chats from Jackson’s “Windsor” account related to Obama administration’s “war on coal,” which the groups say should have been part of the electronic records requests that forced EPA to release the Windsor emails.
Three batches of emails have been released since January, some of an estimated 12,000 internal agency emails ordered to be released to CEI by the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia last year. Page after page of those emails is heavily redacted.
EPA is either destroying or hiding its instant message records to protect McCarthy and the agency’s role in the administration’s war on coal, Chris Horner, counsel for both groups, told The Washington Examiner.
“They’re protecting Gina McCarthy until she’s safely confirmed,” Horner said.
McCarthy is the point person for the EPA’s cooperative effort with green pressure groups like the Sierra Club to kill coal, Horner said. Emails from McCarthy with keywords such as “Sierra Club,” “climate,” “coal” and “danger” were heavily redacted or withheld, which shows how concerned Obama officials are about public exposure of McCarthy’s role in the effort, he said.
“There’s a uniquely intimate relationship green pressure groups have with the Obama administration,” Horner said.
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report found the Department of Justice spent at least $43 million defending EPA in court between 1998 – 2010. Three groups — Earthjustice, the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council —received 41 percent of the attorneys’ fees awarded to EPA litigants.
Those lawsuits were part of a “sue and settle” cooperation that allowed green groups and the EPA to implement environmental regulations without going through the usual legal process, Horner said.
Even if the agency redacts its IM records, as it did the emails, ATI and CEI said that will help shed light on what the EPA is concerned with hiding.
“They’re just not that into transparency and that’s been helpful,” said Horner. “It shows what they’re concerned about.”