Committee Report Finds No EPA Fault After 9/11

A Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report released Sept. 23 claims the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the White House did not act inappropriately in addressing public health concerns in New York City after 9/11. The committee’s report sharply contrasts an Aug. 22 EPA Inspector General’s report that revealed EPA altered press releases to falsely reassure the public because of pressure from the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

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Senators and Past Administrator Speak Out on EPA Response to 9/11

Sens. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) sent a critical letter to President Bush Aug. 26, asking why the administration conveyed incomplete information about air quality hazards in New York City immediately after 9/11. The letter comes shortly after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General issued a report revealing the White House edited EPA public statements on air pollution to be more reassuring.

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EPA Reponse to 9/11 Influenced by the White House

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General released a report Aug. 21 revealing that EPA communications to the public immediately after 9/11 were misleading. Statements made by EPA did not fully represent the data the agency possessed, and were strongly influenced by the White House. The report follows an investigation by the Inspector General into EPA’s overall response to 9/11.

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EPA Misinformation Could Pose Health Risks for the Public

The Inspector General’s office at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is investigating whether EPA mislead the public by stating in recent reports that 94 percent of community water systems met all health-based standards in 2002. EPA data directly contradicts the claim and reveals that the actual number could be much lower – only 79 to 84 percent of systems.

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Feedback Meeting on ECHO

On July 8th Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials from the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (OECA) met with various environmental and public interest groups to hear feedback on the Enforcement and Compliance History Online (ECHO) project. JP Suarez, the Assistant Administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance, chaired the meeting.

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EPA Refuses to Release RMP Data

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has denied OMB Watch’s request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) for Executive Summaries of the Risk Management Plans (RMPs). This marks the first instance, of which OMB Watch is aware, that EPA has denied a request for information specifically collected to inform the public about homeland security risks they face.

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Another Court Denies Secrecy of Cheney Files

In a 2-1 ruling last Tuesday, a federal appeals court rejected Vice President Dick Cheney’s request to keep documents about his energy task force secret. The decision upholds a lower court ruling that ordered the limited release of documents in a discovery process. Justice Department lawyers defending Cheney then approached the D.C. Court of Appeals to halt that order. The Court of Appeals agreed with the lower courts ruling, stating that current laws would safeguard genuinely privileged information.

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EPA Releases Public Involvement Policy

Christie Whitman issued a new “Public Involvement Policy” on June 6, 2003, right before her departure as Environmental Protection (EPA) Administrator. The policy establishes what public participation is, why it is important, and how it will benefit the agency. Essentially, the public involvement policy is an information policy because the public involvement that EPA is seeking is the collection and inclusion of information in the form of feedback, opinions, and concerns from the public. The EPA also released the "Framework for Implementing EPA's Public Involvement Policy" and EPA's "Response to Public Comments on the Draft 2000 Public Involvement Policy."

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2001 TRI Data Finally Arrives

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is releasing the 2001 Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) today, June 30th, just one day shy of the July 1st reporting deadline for 2002 data. As part of the unveiling, EPA will also release their analysis of the latest TRI data and conduct various briefings for the press, congressional offices, environmental community and industry representatives. In addition to being the latest public release of TRI data the 2001 TRI also marks the first year that releases of lead will be reported and potentially the last year that mining companies report their toxic releases.

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Stealthy Officials Raid Libraries of Emergency Plans

It's now a lot harder for people in Ohio to know whether their communities are prepared for chemical emergencies, thanks to local officials who unilaterally removed documents from libraries without the librarians' prior knowledge or public comment.

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