Politics

Rep threatens to subpoena EPA if agency fails again to turn over texts, emails

A House committee is demanding that the EPA turn over text messages, emails and other related documents or face a subpoena request.

The request will be made Monday in a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy from House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith.

“Documents provided by EPA demonstrate a continued lack of transparency at the agency,” the Texas Republican says in the letter, in which he gives the agency until Friday to provide the information.

Committee leaders suggest this request is the last straw, after having asked the agency for information on several occasions -- including a Nov. 10, 2014, letter to the agency’s Office of Inspector General and Jan. 27 letter directly to the agency.

The committee said the agency provided information on Feb. 26 but failed to include several requested documents including text messages or agency policy and procedures from 2009 to 2012.

Committee leaders also say the EPA responded two weeks after their requested deadline with information that appeared to be already publicly available and that the agency is required to comply under the Federal Records Act.

The agency specifically failed to provide emails from high-ranking officials, including McCarthy discussing text messages relating to official agency business. 

“If EPA continues to withhold emails, text messages, and other documents from the Committee, I will have no alternative but to consider the use of compulsory process to obtain the requested documents and information,” Smith wrote.

The EPA could not be reached Sunday for comment.

Smith said the situation only adds to concerns about the agency’s level of transparency, considering a federal court issued an opinion Monday that raised concerns about the agency’s process for responding to Freedom of Information Act requests.