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EPA inspector general to review fee waiver process for possible ideological bias

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Politics,Watchdog Blog,Michal Conger,EPA,Inspectors General,FOIA

One month after documents obtained by a conservative watchdog group suggested the Environmental Protection Agency has used large fees to hinder records requests by conservative groups, the EPA inspector general announced Tuesday it will investigate the agency's fee waiver process.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute in May reviewed Freedom of Information Act requests from several environmental groups friendly to the EPA's mission, as well as requests by several conservative groups, to see how equally the agency applies its fee waiver policy to organizations across the ideological spectrum.

Government agencies are supposed to waive fees for media and watchdog groups disseminating information for public benefit, but CEI said its review showed the EPA was using the fees to stonewall investigations by conservative groups while waiving them for green groups.

Acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe requested the investigation, according to a press release from the EPA IG's office. The IG will evaluate whether the EPA handles FOIA requests in a timely manner and without bias.

Freedom of Information Act requests from CEI forced the EPA to release emails under the "Richard Windsor" alias former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson used to conduct government business. CEI has also filed FOIA requests for emails, text messages and instant messages from Jackson and the nominee to be the next EPA chief, Gina McCarthy.

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