EPA-Related Resources and Documents
Under the Trump Administration, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is being led by a climate-change denier, advocate for deregulation, and close friend of the oil and gas industry. The agency is facing major budget and staff cuts, regulatory rollbacks, and alarming attacks on science. During this turbulent time, EIP has worked to increase transparency, raise awareness, and hold 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.
Travel and Calendar
In May 2017, EIP requested documents from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (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 travelled 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.
Administrator Pruitt’s travel vouchers and calendar records can be downloaded from the links below.
- Travel Vouchers (for Administrator Pruitt), Feb. 21 – May 29, 2017
- Travel Vouchers (for Administrator Pruitt and staff), Italy Trip, June 5 – June 12, 2017
- Travel Vouchers (for Administrator Pruitt), June 13 – August 14, 2017
- Travel Vouchers (for staff of Administrator Pruitt, not including security), Feb. 21 – June 4, 2017; June 13 – August 14, 2017
- Calendar Items, Feb. 21 – May 18, 2017
- Memos re: Military and Charter Flights
Additional items related to Administrator Pruitt’s travel and calendar can be found below.
EIP Spreadsheet Analyzing Travel of Administrator Pruitt and Staff (but not security) March 6, 2017 – August 11, 2017.
Request to EPA OIG to Investigate EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt (EIP sent a follow-up letter to OIG on August 17 with additional signatories)
The EPA has refused to turn over the most obviously public of public records: Public speeches made by Administrator Pruitt. In December 2017, EIP filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the documents be released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Among the speeches EIP is requesting are presentations the Administrator made to groups seeking deregulatory actions, including the American Farm Bureau, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Mining Association.
Read the Dec. 4, 2017 press release, “EPA Administrator Pruitt’s Secrecy Extends Even to Refusal to Release His Public Speeches.”
Opposition to Scott Pruitt
Prior to the approval of Scott Pruitt as President Trump’s EPA Administrator, EIP rallied former EPA employees to urge the Senate to reject the nomination. As Oklahoma Attorney General, Scott Pruitt closed the environmental enforcement unit in his office, sued the EPA over a dozen times in attempts to block environmental rulemakings, and failed to hold polluters accountable in his state.
January 18, 2017 Press Release: “Trump’s Pick for EPA Administrator Silent on His Environmental Enforcement Record as OK Attorney General.”
Read the January 18, 2017 Op-Ed by EIP Director, Eric Schaeffer, published in the New York Times: “Reject Scott Pruitt for the E.P.A.”
For more on Scott Pruitt’s background, visit “Who is Scott Pruitt?“
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).
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.
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.
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:
- FY2018 President’s Budget (Detailed)
- FY2018 EPA Budget in Brief
- H.R. 3354, “Interior and Environment…Appropriations Act, 2018.” (See Title II for EPA budget; Passed in the House 9/14/2017)
- Senate Appropriations Committee Interior, Environment Appropriations Bill
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. Instead of protecting children’s health, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt is protecting Dow Chemical 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, Pruitt is ignoring his own agency, the scientific community, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and countless concerned parents. He is also ignoring EPA’s mission.
Read EIP’s “A Tale of Two Neurotoxins” for more on the Trump Administration’s mishandling of the pesticide.
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.”
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 777 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 and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt have 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.
Travel Expenditures for Pruitt and Accompanying Staff
EIP submitted three FOIA requests seeking records on how much taxpayer dollars have spent on travel costs for the Administrator and accompanying staff. EIP has filed lawsuits in federal court against EPA after the Agency has failed to respond to each request within required time limits.
We have asked EPA to produce records of travel expenditures incurred by the Administrator and accompanying staff from June 5 through June 13 in order to uncover the cost of a flight on military aircraft to fly the Administrator and staff, including security detail, from Cincinnati to New York to catch a flight to Rome. Our litigation compelled EPA to produce many of these records, which can be found here.
EIP also submitted two other FOIA requests due to continued concerns over the Administrator’s abuse of tax dollars for political or personal travel. In one request, EIP is seeking vouchers for the Administrator’s travel over the summer. Another request asks for travel vouchers of Pruitt’s accompanying staff and security detail in order to uncover the true price tag footed by taxpayers when the Administrator leaves Washington, D.C. After we filed suit, EPA produced travel vouchers for Administrator Pruitt and his accompanying staff (minus vouchers for his security detail), which can be found here.
Reports of Agency Travel on U.S. Government Aircraft
Federal agencies are required by law to report information about senior Federal officials who fly aboard U.S. Government aircraft to the U.S. General Services Administration. EIP sent a FOIA request to the GSA asking for reports it received from EPA and the U.S. Department of Interior for use of U.S. Government aircraft to satisfy this reporting requirement. In January 2018, EIP filed a lawsuit against GSA after it refused to provide these public documents.
EIP submitted a FOIA request seeking the most obviously public of public records: Public speeches made by Administrator Pruitt. In December 2017, EIP filed a lawsuit in federal court asking the documents be released pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Among the speeches EIP is requesting are presentations the Administrator made to groups seeking deregulatory actions, including the American Farm Bureau, the American Petroleum Institute, and the National Mining Association.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com for more information or to request access to the group.