EPA-Related Resources and Documents

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was led by a climate-change denier, advocate for deregulation, and close friend of the oil and gas industry for the first part of Trump’s administration. The agency is facing major budget and staff cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and alarming attacks on science. During this turbulent time, EIP worked to increase transparency, raise awareness, and hold former Administrator Scott Pruitt accountable for his actions.

Below, you’ll find links to various documents EIP has requested from the EPA and analyses of the agency’s actions.

Political Contributions

The database below identifies political contributions made by companies and organizations that met with former Administrator Pruitt between February 21, 2017 and April 13, 2018, according to EPA public records obtained by EIP. Campaign donations were compiled from summaries available at OpenSecrets.gov

EIP Spreadsheet: Companies and Organizations that Scott Pruitt Met With While EPA Administrator and their Political Donations, 2015-2016

Travel and Calendar

EIP has created a consolidated and searchable spreadsheet of Pruitt’s calendar from detailed calendars and travel records obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits and a public online calendar posted by EPA. The spreadsheet can be found below under “Administrator Pruitt Calendar Items,” along with the source documents used to develop the spreadsheet, and includes information about the administrator’s meetings and travel, and allows users to search by companies, industries, type of event, etc.

Background: In May 2017, EIP requested documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to FOIA regarding Administrator Pruitt’s travel vouchers and meetings with outside parties.  A review of his travel vouchers found the Administrator had spent almost half of his days in Spring 2017 in Oklahoma or on trips that included stops in his home state. The airfare for these trips cost taxpayers more than $12,000, with much of that covering travel to and from his home state. Comparatively, former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy also frequently traveled back to her home in Boston, but paid for her own flights. EIP submitted a request to the EPA Office of Inspector General (OIG) for an investigation of the administrator’s extensive travel to his home state (below), which was followed by an additional request from three U.S. Representatives. In August 2017, the OIG announced they would launch a “systemic audit” looking into the issue.

EIP still has pending FOIA requests related to this issue. See the “FOIA” tab on the left for more information.


FORMER ADMINISTRATOR PRUITT CALENDAR ITEMS

The “EIP Spreadsheet” below is a consolidated and searchable Excel file documenting all of Administrator Pruitt’s meetings, speaking engagements, travel, and public events from February 21, 2017 through March 30, 2018. The spreadsheet uses data from the Administrator’s detailed calendar and travel records EIP obtained from EPA through FOIA lawsuits, as well as EPA’s public calendar, all of which can be found below.

EIP Spreadsheet: Pruitt Calendar Items, February 21, 2017 – April 13, 2018 and Methodology (Last updated April 24, 2018)

Detailed Calendars: February 21 – May 18, 2017 and May 19 – August 21, 2017

Public Calendar: Online EPA Calendar for Administrator Pruitt

TRAVEL COST RECORDS FOR FORMER AND ACCOMPANYING STAFF

Administrator Pruitt:

EIP Spreadsheet: Administrator Pruitt Travel, March 6, 2017 – February 14, 2018 (Updated on September 4, 2018)

For a summary of Pruitt’s June 2017 travel expenses, including to Rome, click here

For a summary of the travel costs of Pruitt’s entourage, including security, from February 21, 2017 to August 31, 2017, click here

 

Travel Vouchers:

MILITARY/CHARTER FLIGHTS

RELATED REQUESTS AND LETTERS TO EPA INSPECTOR GENERAL

Request to EPA OIG to Investigate EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (EIP sent a follow-up letter to OIG on August 17, 2017 with additional signatories)


Speeches

In response to a lawsuit over failure to make speeches and other prepared remarks to third party groups such as American Farm Bureau and the American Petroleum Institute publicly available, EPA’s attorney told a federal district court judge and EIP that there were no responsive documents because former Administrator Scott Pruitt only spoke extemporaneously, without notes or prepared remarks. Remarks by the Administrator to non-governmental groups — especially groups seeking regulatory rollbacks such as the farm and oil and gas lobby — should be part of the regulatory record and available for public review. Not only were these meetings closed to the public (and largely closed to the press) there is no publicly available record of them whatsoever. Let’s hope Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler is more committed to open government.

See how a former Reagan-appointed EPA Administrator felt on the topic of government transparency: Ruckleshaus 1983 “Fishbowl” Memo”

 


EPA Enforcement Documents

In November 2016, EIP requested documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) regarding enforcement actions against polluters.  These documents include notice of violation letters and requests for information letters sent by EPA to persons and facilities regarding potential violations.  Because of the large number of files received by EPA, EIP has uploaded the files to a Dropbox and created several documents to help you navigate and find files of interest:

  • Detailed Instructions: This document provides instructions on how to use EIP’s index of documents and how to find the EPA documents.
  • EIP FOIA Index: This downloadable Excel file includes a detailed list of every document EIP received from EPA. The file includes information on the type of document, facility information, the environmental statute, etc.  You can also find brief instructions on using the files and a glossary of terms.  This file will periodically be updated as EIP receives additional documents from EPA.  It was last updated on 8/22/2017.
  • Public Dropbox: EIP has uploaded all of the EPA documents to this public Dropbox.  Please note that the link may take several minutes to load as there is a large number of files.  To look for specific documents, you must use the Index (above) to identify a file name used to search the Dropbox (see detailed instructions for help).

Enforcement Trends

The Trump Administration’s EPA has been lighter on the pocketbooks of polluters than previous administrations, collecting 60 percent less in civil penalties than previous administrations had recovered from environmental violators on average in the first six months after taking office, and just half the penalties after the first full year of office.

Federal records reviewed by the Environmental Integrity Project also show a significant drop in the number of environmental enforcement lawsuits filed against companies for breaking pollution control laws, compared to comparable periods in the Obama, Bush, and Clinton Administrations.

Read the August 2017 report, analyzing the first six months of the Administration, “Environmental Enforcement Under Trump.”

Read the February 2018 report, analyzing the first full year of the Administration, “Paying Less to Pollute.”

Exxon Mobil Settlement

While the Trump Administration used this settlement to demonstrate its commitment to environmental law enforcement, an analysis of the October 2017 consent decree found the settlement appears to require less cleanup than advertised and even weakens pollution reduction requirements at some of the facilities.

Read the full analysis and the Dec. 12, 2017 press release, “Trump Administration’s Settlement with Exxon Mobil Appears to Require Less in Pollution Controls than Advertised.”

Third-Party Settlement Restrictions

For the last several years, U.S. House lawmakers have made attempts to ban settlement agreements that require polluters to pay for environmental projects that offset the harm they have caused. These types of settlement agreements, like the 2016 Volkswagen settlement, often provide funds for projects that restore watersheds, protect habitat, weatherize low income homes, convert diesel- burning school buses to natural gas, etc. In the Volkswagen settlement, for example, the company was required to provide $2 billion to expand the use of electric cars and other “zero emission vehicles,” as well as a $2.7 billion “Environmental Mitigation Trust Fund” for state initiatives to reduce air pollution from other cars, trucks, and off-road sources, as a way to offset the illegal pollution from the dirty engines they sold to unsuspecting customers. These types of environmental projects are crucial, as prosecutors can rarely monetize environmental harm, as pollution risks spread across large populations and geographic areas, making it difficult to identify specific victims and “actual harms.” Instead, environmental attorneys seek projects to make the environment a cleaner for everyone who was exposed to illegal pollution.

While the U.S. House had passed legislation to ban such settlement agreements in the past, it had never made it through the Senate. In June 2017, however, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo prohibiting such projects, throwing a wrench in future environmental settlements with polluters.

Read the EIP report, “House Bill Bans Future VW-Style Settlements,” which analyzes the importance of these types of settlements and the impacts they have on the environment.

Budget Documents

The EPA budget is under attack. In May 2017, President Trump released a proposed a 31 percent cut to EPA’s budget in an effort to shrink the Agency’s mission. In September 2017, the House passed legislation which also made deep cuts to EPA’s core programs.

View EIP’s analyses of the President’s proposed budget and the House Bill.
Former Commissioners, Secretaries, and Directors of State Environmental Agencies have also rallied against the proposed budget cuts. Read their comment letter.

Take Action!
Contact your Senators and urge them to vote against EPA budget cuts and restore funding to 2017 levels. Send a message now.

Proposed EPA Budgets:

Chlorpyrifos

Chlorpyrifos, like lead, is a chemical that damages the developing brains of young children, with permanent impacts on IQ and behavior. Yet the way the Environmental Protection Agency handled lead in the early 1970s and the way the agency is handling chlorpyrifos today are starkly different. With lead, the EPA followed the precautionary mission of America’s then-young environmental laws, fought a tough legal battle with regulated industry, and won. As a result, the amount of lead in children’s blood dropped dramatically. With chlorpyrifos, the EPA under the Trump Administration is going in the opposite direction by allowing this dangerous pesticide to continue to be sprayed in farm fields, despite strong evidence that it puts public health at risk. In doing so, the Trump Administration is ignoring its own agency, the scientific community, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless concerned parents.

Read EIP’s “A Tale of Two Neurotoxins” for more on the Trump Administration’s mishandling of the pesticide.

Regulatory Rollbacks

The Trump Administration is rolling back a wide variety of regulations that protect our water, air, land, and public health in order to benefit high-pollution industries that donate heavily to political campaigns. Despite numbers showing that environmental regulations on the whole are good for the economy and have benefits that far exceed the costs, the attack has been relentless. In March 2017, President Trump issued an executive order that directed agencies to “review all existing regulations…that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources, with particular attention to oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear energy resources.”

For a list of EPA regulations under attack, visit “Environmental Protections on the Chopping Block.”

Science Advisory Boards

In the 1970s, Congress created the Science Advisory Board (SAB) and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) to provide EPA with impartial scientific advice. EPA invites nominations for scientific experts and claims to select impartial candidates without any financial conflicts of interest.

Unfortunately, Administrator Pruitt has prohibited researchers who receive EPA grants from serving on the advisory boards, suggesting they may be biased, and limited the list of credible scientific experts. In November 2017, the EPA selected new advisors that confirm the Trump Administration is no longer interested in protecting the environment or public health. Instead, the Trump EPA is looking out for its number-one constituency: the polluters it should be regulating. The new appointments show clear conflicts of industry, bias, and in some cases a simple lack of relevant experience.

View our overview of the latest SAB and CASAC picks: “The Fix Is In: EPA Packs Science Advisory Boards with Industry Advocates.”

View the comments that EIP submitted to EPA regarding the list of nominees for the SAB and CASAC.

Climate Science

For nearly 50 years, Republican and Democratic administrations have recognized scientific evidence that pollution has the potential to alter the world’s climate in dangerous ways. In 2009, EPA concluded that climate-changing pollution endangers American’s health and welfare. Yet President Trump has made false claims that climate change is a “hoax,” and the Administration has taken actions that recklessly disregard well-established science and endanger the public. In advance of the 2017 Climate March, EIP circulated sent a letter, drafted by our partner, the Environmental Protection Network, and signed by 776 former scientists, managers, analysts, and employees of the EPA, condemning the Trump Administration for ignoring science.

Read the letter sent to the White House and leaders of Congress: “The Earth Warms While Trump Ignores Science.”

Regulations Don’t “Kill Jobs”

President Donald Trump has consistently attacked environmental regulations by arguing these rules “kill jobs.” This claim is false. In EIP’s report, “Don’t Believe the Job Killer Hype,” we synthesized decades of economic research, examined data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, and reviewed reports from the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, and found there is no truth to the narrative that regulations kill jobs or stifle growth. The federal government data show that only about two tenths of one percent of layoffs are caused by government regulations of any kind, including environmental regulations. Instead, layoffs are caused far more often by corporate buyouts, technological advances, and lower overseas labor costs.

Read the full report, “Don’t believe the ‘Job Killer’ Hype.”

Fact vs. Fiction

The Trump Administration has thrown around multiple anti-environmental talking points to fuel their political agenda. The rhetoric is demonstrably untrue, and puts our environment and public health at risk.

View EIP’s “Debunking Anti-EPA Talking Points” for a list of the misleading talking points, and the facts that prove otherwise.

Submitting FOIA Requests

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, EPA and other federal agencies must make records available to the public upon request.  Agencies are required to respond to requests for records within 20 business days. These records must then be made promptly available to the public.

Members of the public can submit a FOIA request to EPA and many other federal agencies through FOIAonline.

Pending FOIA Requests

EIP continues to submit Freedom of Information Act requests seeking records relating to the Administrator’s abuse of tax dollars for political or personal travel and to force disclosure of his calendar of meetings with outside interest groups.  We have filed a series of lawsuits to compel this disclosure of these public records after EPA’s continual failure to answer our FOIA requests within mandatory time limits.

Pruitt’s Closed-Door Meetings on the “Waters of the US” Rule

In July 2017, EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers proposed to repeal a rule defining the wetlands and waterways protected under the Clean Water Act (known as the “Waters of the US” or “WOTUS” rule). From July through October 2017, Administrator Pruitt held at least 17 closed door “roundtable” meetings with agribusiness, farm groups, and other industries to discuss the repeal and changes to the WOTUS rule. Contrary to EPA’s longstanding policy, the rulemaking docket for the WOTUS rule contains no information about Mr. Pruitt’s remarks or records of those private discussions. In February 2018, EIP submitted a FOIA request for such records relating to these roundtables. In April 2018, EIP filed a lawsuit on behalf of itself and partner groups to compel EPA to produce these records after the Agency was unable or unwilling to provide an estimated timeline for disclosure.

EPA Databases

On January 27, 2017, EIP submitted an extensive FOIA request to EPA for the data contained in all EPA databases. This request mirrored one sent from other environmental organizations and led to EPA archiving it’s website as of January 19, 2017, which is still available to the public. We also archived versions of EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance History Online database, the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program database, the Toxics Release Inventory, AirData, and other key environmental databases maintained by EPA.

Open Letter to EPA Employees

During a time of proposed budget cuts and regulatory rollbacks, it has become increasingly important to demonstrate strong support and encouragement for embattled agency employees that have devoted their careers to protecting the environment and public health.

Join thousands of individuals by signing on to an open letter to EPA employees, voicing appreciation for the work of agency employees, despite the messages coming from the Trump Administration.

Sign the letter here.

Read the full letter, signed by 2,423 individuals as of May 7, 2018.

Connect with Former EPA Employees

EIP manages a Google Group, called “EPA Watch” for former EPA employees interested in connecting with other EPA alumni. The group functions as both a listserv and an online forum for alumni to share and receive information related to EPA and its mission.

Please e-mail Courtney at cbernhardt@environmentalintegrity.org for more information or to request access to the group.