Lack of Transparency at EPA

Lately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been faulted for failing to be accountable with the media regarding its latest proposed carbon regulations. This caught our attention months ago when several reporters gave anecdotes about the run-around they received when trying to get anyone from EPA to go “on the record” about anything.

One reporter wrote about how the agency held a background briefing call with reporters on the proposal of their new climate rule, but then wouldn’t answer any questions on the record. This behavior isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, as these briefing calls have been held to this secretive standard since the days of former Administrator Lisa Jackson. Another reporter recalled a three-month back-and-forth on a completely different subject with agency employees about getting an interview with Janet McCabe, only to find out that email responses from the media relations office would have to suffice. EPA’s lack of transparency and on the record work with reports is troubling, especially because the agency touts the “benefits” of its carbon regulations but won’t disclose the true costs of its plans. If the EPA is so confident that their policy agenda will stand up to the light of day, why aren’t they letting the sunshine in?

Unfortunately for EPA, there was even more unwanted light shed on the situation. The Associated Press wrote about complaints from groups of journalists and scientific organizations that EPA was preventing their science advisory board members from speaking with members of the press. These experts are also the same scientific advisors who raised red flags over EPA’s New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) late last year, which got the attention of the House Science Committee in December 2013. This was another pillar in the presidential climate agenda where EPA ignored concerns about the viability of the technology required for new coal plants, while many of the agency’s third-party experts disagreed that NSPS standards were not feasible. EPA officials certainly like to dodge tough questions, especially when they call the administration’s bluff, and it appears that any bit of dissension is quickly silenced within the organization.

But alas, here we are eight months later, still scratching our heads wondering why EPA isn’t standing behind its rules and answering the questions consumers, experts and public officials have repeatedly asked. Lawmakers also remain confused and frustrated. The House Science Committee sent another letter to Administrator Gina McCarthy several weeks ago faulting the agency for conducting a limited analysis of its proposed carbon regulations that fails to consider “real-world contingencies” and requested a comprehensive, independent analysis be undertaken before the agency moves forward with its proposal. For an organization that has been granted a supreme amount of unwarranted power by the president, it is getting away with a giant, and unlawful, power grab without providing much of an explanation to those who will face the consequences of these proposed regulations.

It’s time the EPA comes clean with the American people and admits that their regulations will cause more harm than good. Facing the music can be a difficult thing, especially when one has to own up to the fact that their ill-conceived regulations will cripple our economy and job market, leaving all of us to pay the ultimate cost of skyrocketing electricity prices. But the American people deserve the truth, and we cannot allow EPA to continue its regulatory crusade unchecked.

Elizabeth Jennings is a Communications Specialist for the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity

Morning Consult