EPA rule lets political officials block FOIA document requests
Rulemaking follows Interior Department actions that drew congressional criticism

Environmental Protection Agency prepares regulations on how it responds to freedom of information requests (CQ Roll Call photo by Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A new EPA rule would allow political appointees to review and withhold documents requested by the public under the Freedom of Information Act. 

The final rule, published Wednesday in the Federal Register, was signed by EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler on June 14 and takes effect July 25. It was not preceded by a public comment period.

White House: Congress Should Be Subject to FOIA (Updated)

Chaffetz has been pressing to improve the administration's response to FOIA requests. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 6:34 p.m. | FOIA for thee, not for me.  

The White House wants Congress to subject itself to FOIA requests — but doesn't want the same level of sunshine to apply to the West Wing. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest appeared to have a preplanned quip at the ready Tuesday when asked about oversight hearings into the administration's handling of FOIA requests.  

Rockefeller Opposes Leahy FOIA Bill

Rockefeller (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Once on a glide path to passage through the Senate, the FOIA Improvement Act is in trouble after retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., came out against the bill designed to make government more transparent.  

“I have a long record of support for open government and the [Freedom of Information Act] process," Rockefeller said in a release. "I am concerned that provisions in this bill will have the unintended consequence of harming our ability to enforce the many important federal laws that protect American consumers from financial fraud and other abuses." Rockefeller argues the provisions "would make it harder for federal agency attorneys to prepare their cases, and they would potentially give defendants new ways to obstruct and delay investigations into their conduct. I hope there is a way to address these concerns and pass the bill.”