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Media FOIA Requests to EPA Spiked After Trump Election, Data Reveal

By Brent Scher • Washington Free Beacon

The number of Freedom of Information Act requests the Environmental Protection Agency received from mainstream outlets such as the New York Times and Washington Post spiked immediately after Republican President Donald Trump took office, according to a Free Beacon analysis of FOIA requests by the media from 2013 to the present.

The figures, obtained through the government’s FOIA online database, reveal a clear increase in requests for information from the agency once Trump was elected president.

The New York Times, for example, made just 13 FOIA requests during the four years of Obama’s second term, sending 3 in 2013, 1 in 2014, 7 in 2015, and 2 in 2016. The number of FOIA requests the Times sent for Obama’s entire second term was nearly quadrupled in the first year of Trump’s presidency alone, when the Times sent 59 FOIA requests to the EPA.

Reporters at the Times have made 100 FOIA requests since Trump took office just over two years ago, a 669 percent increase of the number of FOIA requests it made during the four years of Obama’s second term.

Reporters at the Washington Post sent just a single FOIA request to the EPA during Obama’s entire second term, and have sent 43 FOIA requests to the agency since Trump took office.

The sharp increase in FOIA requests to the EPA was also apparent at Politico (15 requests in Obama’s second term, 198 since Trump took office), The Hill (20 requests in Obama’s second term, 67 since Trump took office), CNN (25 requests in Obama’s second term, 47 since Trump took office), Buzzfeed (18 requests in Obama’s second term, 38 since Trump took office), and ABC News (4 requests in Obama’s second term, 32 since Trump took office).

The other outlets included in the analysis of mainstream media were the Associated Press, Bloomberg, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, NBC News, MSNBC, Reuters, Daily Beast, The Guardian, and the Wall Street Journal.

Among them, only Bloomberg sent a consistent amount of FOIA requests in the final years of the Obama administration, when the EPA released major proposals such as the Clean Power Plan and its new Waters of the United States rule.

EPA administrators have attracted attention during both administrations. Toward the end of the tenure of Obama’s first EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, it was revealed that she had been conducting official business using the alias “Richard Windsor.” She denied that it was part of an effort to evade federal record keeping laws.

Under the watch of Jackson’s replacement Gina McCarthy, it was revealed that an agency employee was habitually watching porn on his government computer. The porn-watcher remained on the payroll for months.

Trump’s first appointed EPA administrator Scott Pruitt resigned last summer after a series of revelations regarding his misuse of agency funds.


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