Skip to comments.Lawsuit Seeks Damages From EPA, ‘A Toxic Waste Dump of Lawlessness’
Posted on 07/25/2014 9:29:10 AM PDT by jazusamo
(CNSNews.com) A conservative legal group is asking a federal judge to punish the Environmental Protection Agency for destroying or failing to preserve emails and text messages requested in August 2012 under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Landmark Legal Foundation believes the requested -- but never delivered -- messages to outside groups would have revealed EPA attempts to influence the 2012 presidential election.
"The EPA is a toxic waste dump for lawlessness and disdain for the Constitution, said Landmark Legal President Mark Levin.
His legal group wants the federal court to fine the EPA in an amount sufficient to deter future wrongdoing.
Landmark Legal also is asking the judge to appoint an independent monitor to ensure that EPA is properly preserving and searching for all records that fall under Landmarks original FOIA request.
EPA cannot be trusted, the lawsuit states. The appointment of an independent monitor is essential to ensure that EPA complies fully with its obligation to preserve documents
And finally, the lawsuit asks the judge to direct the EPA to inform parties in other lawsuits that it may have destroyed or failed to preserve records they had a legal right to receive in their litigation.
When any federal agency receives a FOIA request, the statute says it must preserve every significant repository of records, both paper and electronic, that may contain materials that could be responsive to that request, Levin said. When an agency gets sued it must also notify everyone who might be involved in the suit to preserve everything in their possession that could be discoverable in the litigation.
"But the people at the EPA, from the Administrator on down, think theyre above the law, that no one has the right to question what or how they do their jobs. Well, theyre wrong. The laws apply to everyone, even federal bureaucrats.
The lawsuit says EPA should have searched the personal emails and text messages used by top EPA officials, including then-Administrator Lisa Jackson, to conduct official business, but it failed to do so.
"EPA didnt and doesnt care, an attitude that it has carried into every aspect of its dealings with Landmark," the lawsuit says. "EPA has treated Landmark as an adversary from the receipt of its FOIA request, not as a rightful participant in a FOIA regime as enforcing principles of open government subject to oversight by its citizens."
This is the second time Landmark Legal has sought sanctions against the EPA in FOIA litigation.
In 2003, the Agency was held in contempt by a federal judge for destroying email backup tapes in a similar suit over midnight regulations hurried into law in the final days of the Clinton Administration. In that case, the EPA was fined nearly $300,000.
"The EPA has to learn that you cant save the planet by destroying the rule of law, Levin said. It also must understand that some of our most precious resources are the principles of limited government and official accountability enumerated in the Constitution. If we dont protect those, saving the snail darter or the spotted owl wont mean a thing.
Landmark Legal isnt the only information-seeker to be frustrated by EPA stonewalling: EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy recently informed Congress that EPA was unable to obtain requested records because of a computer crash.
According to Landmark Legals current lawsuit, Imposition of these sanctions will also deliver a larger message to the EPA and the entire federal bureaucracy to take its data preservations obligations seriously.
Landmark Legal Foundation is a nonprofit, public interest law firm with offices in Kansas City, MO. and Leesburg, Va.
Disappearing records have become common place at the EPA, it's happened in a controversial case in a proposed gold and copper mine in Alaska, the Pebble Mine at Bristol Bay.
Now, not only is North unavailable to the committee, but two years worth of his emails about Pebble Mine are also missing. In response to the oversight committees request, the EPA searched Norths laptop and old computer hard drive, and three external hard drives, but could not find any of his electronic documents related to the mine for the period between April 2007 and May 2009. The EPA says it is still searching.
Once again they are searching hard drives for emails? Not the email server?
I think Mark Levin is brilliant and I wish him well in this.
Having said that, what exactly is the point of “fining” a federal bureaucracy? Aren’t they just going to pay that fine with taxpayer money? Some nice long prison sentences would be more likely to serve as a deterrent for this sort of thing.
I agree, prison sentences would be appropriate in my view but I’m pretty sure this is a civil suit.
The only thing I can think of is the fines may come from the existing budget which would force them to scale back on their criminal activities but it’s probably wishful thinking.
A sick situation which has existed long before Omugabe came on the scene, so he cannot get all the credit.
This bureaucracy is simply another playground for professional bureaucrats, whose sole existence is milking the public purse, and perpetuating their power as long as possible. Overreaching is their downfall, as with all the other alphabet soup agencies created with good intentions, but allowed to go wild for decades.
The solution may well be to erase it and start over, using the criteria that was the basis of their original creation. To gather facts to guide legislation by elected officials.
This business of allowing non-existing bureaucracies to write rules and regulations with the force of law has got to stop.
The ADA is the most painful example of what happens when the elected officials are too stupid, too lazy or too arrogant actually to read the freaking laws they pass and to do their jobs. That too, has got to change.
That is not enough. Their victims have got to be made whole again.
I propose that 30% of their (absolutely unchanged) budgets for the next ten years be earmarked to providing restitution for all the victims of their illegal "takings."
Provided, of course, that the first option, the elimination of the rogue agency does not occur.
Here we go again with the missing documents exc..
The EPA should disappear. About 10% of what it does is worthy; and should be kept in place in another agency.
Your post is dead on the mark.
The EPA has become more and more anti business and anti property rights as the years have passed. A big factor has been the infiltration of radical communist environmentalists into the agency as well as the federal judicial system in my view.
There’s much to be said for erasing it and starting over.