Two environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Thursday for failing to provide correspondence between the agency and a prominent group skeptical of climate change science, The Heartland Institute.
In their suit, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) said the EPA failed to release public documents they each previously requested in August and October via Freedom of Information Act regarding the agency’s correspondence with the Heartland Institute.
“While EPA acknowledged both requests and asked for some initial clarification, it has subsequently stopped communicating with SELC. EPA has provided vague responses to EDF’s outreach that do not indicate any expectation of near-term progress on EDF’s FOIA request,” their lawsuit read.
Kym Hunter, an attorney for SELC, said their request is in the public interest.
“The public has a clear and protected right to know what the EPA is doing and with whom they are communicating, including those pushing a climate-denier agenda,” she said in a statement. “EPA’s efforts to promote climate change deniers and undermine peer-reviewed science behind closed doors is not only a failure of its mission, it is illegal.”
The libertarian-leaning Heartland Institute, which describes itself as “one of the world’s leading free-market think tanks,” has long been linked to climate skepticism.
Last spring, PBS found that the group disseminated packets to more than 200,000 teachers which included the organizations books, “Why Scientists Disagree About Global Warming.”
The group confirmed last July to E&E News that it had been in touch with EPA officials, who had contacted the Heartland Institute to help with identifying industry experts to sit on the “red team” for Administrator Scott Pruitt’s previously proposed red team/ blue team advisory group.
Just last week, EPA blasted out a press release highlighting an op-ed written by Heartland Institute president Tim Huelskamp for The Hill titled, “Scott Pruitt is leading the EPA towards Greatness.”