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 the Trump 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 the Trump Administration’s EPA accountable for its actions.
Below, you’ll find links to various documents EIP has requested from the EPA and analyses of the Agency’s actions.
Records Obtained Through FOIA
Submitting FOIA Requests
Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 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: https://www.foiaonline.gov/foiaonline/action/public/home
EPA Enforcement Documents
In November 2016, EIP requested documents from EPA pursuant to 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).
For EIP’s analysis on EPA’s enforcement trends, please see here.
Former Administrator Pruitt
EIP submitted FOIA 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. We have posted the records we have obtained through these lawsuits and our analysis of the records.
1. Former Administrator Pruitt’s Calendar
EIP Spreadsheet: Pruitt Calendar Items, February 21, 2017 – April 13, 2018 and Methodology (Last updated April 24, 2018)
This “EIP Spreadsheet” 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.
Public Calendar: Online EPA Calendar for Administrator Pruitt
2. Former Administrator Pruitt’s Travel Costs and Security Detail
Over the course of the former Administrator’s first six months in office, it cost taxpayers $646,659.06 in travel costs for Mr. Pruitt’s entourage (including security detail) alone. Meanwhile, EPA spent $124,350.60 on commercial travel and $58,366.98 on noncommercial travel (through chartered and military flights) for former Administrator Pruitt from February 21, 2017 through February 14, 2018.
EIP Spreadsheet: Administrator Pruitt Travel, March 6, 2017 – February 14, 2018 (Updated on September 4, 2018)
- February 21 – May 29, 2017 (for former Administrator Pruitt)
- June 5 – June 12, 2017, Italy Trip. (for former Adminstrator Pruitt and accompanying staff, excluding security detail)
- June 13 – August 14, 2017 (for former Administrator Pruitt)
- August 30, 2017 – February 14, 2018 (for former Administrator Pruitt)
- February 21 – June 4, 2017; June 13 – August 14, 2017 (for staff accompanying former Administrator Pruitt, excluding security detail)
b. Security Detail
According to records recently obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) in response to FOIA requests, taxpayers spent $891,798 on travel costs for former Administrator Scott Pruitt’s security detail from February 2017 through March 2018. These new records confirm the conclusions of EPA’s Office of Inspector General, which released an audit of Mr. Pruitt’s personal security detail and travel expenses on September 4, 2018. As the Audit notes, these numbers represented a nearly 210% increase in personal security detail travel expenses to cover Mr. Pruitt, compared to expenses over a comparable 11-month timeframe for Ms. McCarthy.
It is unclear whether EPA has taken any additional actions on this matter since the September 4 Audit, or whether it intends to pursue the matter further. In its November 2018 Semi-Annual Report to Congress, EPA’s Office of Inspector General noted that several ethics investigations into Mr. Pruitt were unable to be completed and had to be closed as “inconclusive,” due to Mr. Pruitt’s resignation prior to being interviewed by the Office’s investigators. On December 19, 2018, Representative Elijah E. Cummings, now Chairman of the House Oversight Committee, stated that he intended to continue these investigations upon resumption of the next Congress. In the same letter, Chairman Cummings requested that EPA fully comply with the Committee’s previously unanswered requests for documents regarding Mr. Pruitt, including documents related to his personal security detail and travel expenditures.
Taxpayers spent $121,860.32 on travel costs for the former Administrator’s security detail in August 2017 alone. The upsurge in travel costs for Mr. Pruitt’s security detail for the month of August is noteworthy for two reasons. One, this increased spending coincides with the end of Mr. Pruitt’s alleged housing arrangement with lobbyist Vicki Hart on August 4, which allowed the former Administrator to rent a Capitol Hill condo for $50 a night. See Washington Post, After Leaving $50-a-night Rental, EPA’s Scott Pruitt Had No Fixed D.C. Address for a Month, April 4, 2018, available at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2018/04/04/after-leaving-50-a-night-rental-epas-scott-pruitt-had-no-fixed-d-c-address-for-a-month/?utm_term=.035df2552c2b. Two, this upsurge falls during a month where, according to his official public calendar, 11 out of the 23 work days are completely blank with no meetings, which the former Administrator presumably used for vacation and/or sick leave.
c. Pruitt’s Travel Costs, June 5-12, 2017:
On August 3, 2017, EIP submitted a FOIA request to EPA seeking “[r]ecords of expenditures for all travel outside of Washington, DC by Administrator Pruitt, as well as any EPA staff that accompanied Administrator Pruitt, from June 5, 2017 through June 12, 2017.” EIP submitted this FOIA request in order to uncover information about Mr. Pruitt’s travel expenditures for his trip to Italy in June 2017.
Mr. Pruitt flew from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York to Rome on June 7, 2017 in order to attend a June 11th G7 summit with other top environmental officials. However, it was reported that the former Administrator attended merely the first few hours of the two-day summit before returning to Washington, DC. See Associated Press (via Business Insider), Scott Pruitt makes brief appearance at G7 environmental summit, June 11, 2017, available at https://www.businessinsider.com/ap-us-official-makes-brief-appearance-at-g7-environment-summit-2017-6.
Trip to Cincinnati, Ohio
EIP also obtained records showing that EPA reimbursed the White House $30,000 to help fund President Trump’s June 7, 2017 rally in Cincinnati, Ohio and for travel costs for carrying Mr. Pruitt and his staff aboard Air Force One to the event. EPA also disclosed the interagency agreement documenting the $36,068.50 military flight from Cincinnati to New York that was previously disclosed. These amounts are not included in the $164,199.93 grand total for Mr. Pruitt’s Italy trip.
Rome, Italy Trip Expenses
According to records recently obtained by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) in response to its August 3, 2017 Freedom of Information Act request, former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s June 2017 trip to Italy cost taxpayers another $43,943.57 in addition to the $120,256.36 already reported, bringing the total for the trip to $164,199.93.
This additional $43,943.57 includes:
- $34,960.75 paid by EPA to the U.S. Embassy in Rome to cover costs such as $10,066.77 for automobiles, drivers, and other vehicle-related costs to drive Mr. Pruitt and his entourage around in Italy, and $5,841.23 to lodge these drivers at the five-star Regina Hotel Baglionia.
- $8,982.82 for additional travel costs for Mr. Pruitt’s security detail during the week of June 5-12. This amount is in addition to $30,553.88 previously disclosed in response to EIP’s FOIA requests.
The list below itemizes EPA’s travel expenditures incurred from former Administrator Pruitt’s trip to Rome, Italy from June 7-12, 2017. This list is ordered according to the dates on which EPA disclosed records in response to EIP’s FOIA request.
- January 16 Production: Pruitt and Staff Travel Vouchers
Based upon EPA’s disclosure of travel vouchers, EPA spent $53,633.98 on airfare, per diem, and lodging for Mr. Pruitt and accompanying EPA staff (except members of the security detail). The cost of airfare, lodging, and per diem for Mr. Pruitt alone accounts for $8,997.83 of that total amount.
EPA separately spent $36,068.50 on a U.S. Air Force aircraft to carry the former Administrator from Cincinnati to the John F. Kennedy International Airport so that he could catch his flight to Rome.
- March 19 Production: Security Detail Travel Expenses
Airfare, per diem, and lodging for the former Administrator’s security detail cost $30,553.88 for the week of June 5-12, 2017. [Note: this total also includes travel costs for security detail that accompanied Mr. Pruitt on a June 5-6 trip to New York.]
- May 2 Production: Additional Security Detail Expenses
EPA found additional travel vouchers for former Administrator Pruitt’s security detail that amounts to another $8,982.82. This is in addition to the $30,553.88 figure already disclosed to EIP. This brings the total travel cost for Mr. Pruitt’s security detail for the week to $39,536.70.
- July 13 Production: Italian Motorcade and Other Costs
EPA spent an additional $34,960.75 to cover costs of Mr. Pruitt’s Italy trip. EIP successfully obtained these records of additional Italy trip travel expenses after allegations surfaced that Mr. Pruitt’s former head of security, Pasquale Perrotta, hired private Italian security guards and a motorcade for the former Administrator.
This amount includes $10,066.77 for automobiles, drivers, and other vehicle-related costs to drive Mr. Pruitt and staff in Italy, and $5,841.23 to lodge these drivers at the Regina Hotel Baglioni, a five-star hotel located in Rome.
3. Former Administrator Pruitt’s Military/Charter Flights
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. EIP was able to secure these reports after it filed suit in January 2018.
4. Former Administrator Pruitt’s 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
Outstanding FOIA Requests and Lawsuits
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.
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 “Clean Water” 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 Clean Water Rule. Contrary to EPA’s longstanding policy, the rulemaking docket for the Clean Water 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’s “Rule of Law” and “Core Mission” Major IT Projects
EPA’s online summary of its IT investments for fiscal year 2018 includes a $20.22 million item entitled “Rule of Law” and an $18.48 million item entitled “Core Mission.” EPA has classified as these as “small” investments, despite both clearly exceeding the thresholds for “small” and “major” IT investments ($25K and $5 million respectively) defined by EPA’s regulations. Under federal regulations and guidance issued by the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, “major” investments are subject to much stricter standards than “small” investments. For example, agencies must provide formal “Business Cases” justifying major investments, defining strategic objectives, assessing risks, and establishing a timetable for completion of key tasks. Agencies must also make specific information relating to major investments, such as project goals and ongoing performance evaluations, publicly available through monthly updates on the government’s online IT Dashboard. Despite these requirements, no information is available regarding these two investments, aside from their titles. After receiving no response to several emails requesting clarification from EPA’s Chief Information Officer, EIP submitted a FOIA request for records relating to these investments on August 2, 2018. On October 2, 2018, EIP filed a lawsuit to compel EPA to produce these records, after receiving no response regarding its FOIA request.
Pruitt and Staff’s Travel Expenses from August 2017 to March 2018
Over the course of his brief tenure, former Administrator Pruitt notoriously traveled outside of Washington, D.C. at a prolific rate – and at an enormous expense to taxpayers. On March 2, 2018, EIP filed a FOIA request on behalf of itself and partner group Chesapeake Climate Action Network seeking disclosure of records of travel expenditures for Mr. Pruitt and EPA staff accompanying him, including members of the former Administrator’s security detail, for travel outside of Washington, D.C. from August 18, 2017, to March 2, 2018. After receiving an incomplete response regarding its FOIA request, EIP filed its lawsuit on August 21, 2018, which seeks in part to compel EPA to produce these records. This lawsuit also sought to compel EPA to cease its illegal “political awareness review” policy to delay responding to certain FOIA requests. More information on this part of the lawsuit can be found here.
EPA’s Emails to Third Parties Regarding Former Administrator Gina McCarthy
In March of 2018, at the height of the national controversy over former Administrator Pruitt’s travel expenses, several conservative media outlets, including the Washington Free Beacon and Fox News, began circulating a claim that Lisa Jackson and Gina McCarthy, former EPA Administrators under the Obama Administration, had incurred up to eight times as much in travel and security detail expenses as Mr. Pruitt during their tenures. These outlets stated these claims were supported by “internal EPA documents” provided to the outlets (but not included in the articles themselves) by sources within EPA. On March 27, 2018, EIP submitted a FOIA request seeking (1) any communications between EPA employees and third parties regarding the travel expenses of former Administrators Jackson and McCarthy, and (2) records of all travel expenses of Ms. McCarthy and any accompanying security detail personnel over the course of her tenure. on August 21, 2018, which seeks in part to compel EPA to produce these records. This lawsuit also sought to compel EPA to cease its illegal “political awareness review” policy to delay responding to certain FOIA requests. More information on this part of the lawsuit can be found here.
Attachments Provided to/by Third Parties for Mr. Pruitt’s Meetings
In March 2018, EIP received records of former Administrator Pruitt’s calendar in response to an August 2017 FOIA request submitted to EPA for records of Mr. Pruitt’s schedule of meetings with outside parties from May 19, 2017 to August 14, 2017. Thirty of the calendar entries EIP received indicated that they had included attachments that may have been either produced by outside parties, or provided to outside parties. Because these attachments were not included in the March 2018 disclosure, EIP submitted an additional FOIA request on April 13, 2018, for these attachments. on August 21, 2018, which seeks in part to compel EPA to produce these records. This lawsuit also sought to compel EPA to cease its illegal “political awareness review” policy to delay responding to certain FOIA requests. More information on this part of the lawsuit can be found here.
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.”
EPA’s “Political Awareness Review” Policy
Internal EPA documents which have been made public through FOIA requests and Congressional inquiries over the past year show that EPA has implemented a new FOIA policy it refers to as the “AO Centralization Project.” One component of this Centralization Project was a “political awareness review.” While agency policies intended to make senior officials aware of impending FOIA productions are not necessarily new or improper per se, EPA’s “awareness review” substantially diverged from acceptable FOIA practices by explicitly forbidding career FOIA staff from disclosing responsive records until a political appointee has reviewed and approved of the disclosure. While this policy was supposedly implemented to improve FOIA response efficiency, data indicated that the rate, quality, and efficiency of EPA AO’s FOIA responses had in fact decreased on almost every measurable metric since this policy was introduced. Internal emails, memos, and statements of former and current EPA employees suggest that the actual purpose of the “awareness review” policy was to delay the disclosure of politically sensitive records, with requests from nonprofits, watchdogs, news media, and left-leaning organizations being primarily affected. On August 21, 2018, EIP filed a lawsuit on behalf of itself and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network seeking to compel EPA to cease this illegal policy of delay.
Following the organizations’ lawsuit, EPA issued an agency-wide memorandum on November 16, 2018 articulating a new “Awareness Notification Process” for select FOIA releases. The November 16 memorandum, which stated that it immediately controlled and superseded any previous official or unofficial processes, guidance, or instructions inconsistent with the new procedure, imposed several important procedural requirements for “awareness review,” including:
- A maximum 3-day limit for “awareness review,” and a requirement that EPA release records at the end of that period regardless of whether the request has actually been reviewed;
- Requiring EPA to notify any affected requesters that their request has been sent to awareness review, and to make such notification public via FOIA Online; and
- Explicitly barring officials who review FOIA requests under this new policy from making any decisions regarding approval, withholding, or release of records, and emphasizing that only EPA’s career FOIA staff may make such decisions.
As the new policy substantially improved EPA’s FOIA procedure and addressed the organizations’ underlying concerns with EPA’s prior “political awareness review” policy, the organizations subsequently dropped their policy-related claims. The organizations’ lawsuit concerning the specific FOIA requests at issue continues.
A copy of the November 16, 2018 “Awareness Notification Process” memorandum is available here.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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