JULY 29, 2008
In yet another example of government secrecy, the agency in charge of protecting human health and the environment has ordered its staff not to speak with congressional investigators, the media and even the agency’s own inspector general.
The massive, taxpayer-funded Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with an annual budget of nearly $8 billion, has issued a gag order on its pollution enforcement officials via an internal electronic mail made public by an international wire service dedicated to covering environmental issues.
The message orders nearly a dozen managers in the EPA’s Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and their staff to keep quiet and “not respond to questions or make statements” if contacted by congressional investigators, reporters or its own Office of Inspector General. That silenced branch of the agency is charged with enforcing the nation’s environmental laws.
The EPA has been under pressure from several congressional committees to disclose documents relating to its position on global warming and lawmakers have met powerful resistance in attempts to subpoena agency files. Additionally, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson, appointed by George W. Bush in 2005, has refused to appear before two Senate committees.
This sort of government secrecy is nothing new and has been well documented by Judicial Watch over the years. In fact, Judicial Watch is the nation’s leading expert in forcing the release of government documents—millions of pages in the last decade—obtained through open records laws. The organization has published two informative publications (open records brochure and open records handbook) to assist the public in obtaining government records.
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