Rep. Porter Continues Fighting for Trump Administration Transparency
Congresswoman calls out agency’s inadequate response to oversight
Congresswoman Katie Porter (CA-45) today called out the Trump Administration’s inadequate response to oversight efforts demanding transparency from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
In July, Rep. Porter sent a letter to EPA expressing alarm about a new regulation that would make it easier for polluters to overturn environmental protections in secret, without transparency for the public. The new rule, which would allow political appointees, rather than civil servants, at EPA to review public information requests, was implemented without the usual public comment period required by law.
“As fires rage across the state of California and blackouts threaten access to critical resources, it’s absurd that the Environmental Protection Agency would argue that there should be less transparency and less access to public records,” Congresswoman Porter said. “Whether it’s a Congressmember or an agency head, government officials should be accountable to the people. That’s not happening if federal agencies can just decide willy-nilly not to hear feedback from everyday Americans.”
Under federal guidelines, there must be a public comment period as part of the rulemaking process. This gives every American the opportunity to provide input to government agencies on the effects of their rules. The EPA chose to not to adhere to these guidelines and instead rapidly released their new rule without allowing for public comment. Despite Porter’s initial letter and concerns expressed by environmental and government oversight advocates across the country, EPA chose to implement the rule.
In EPA’s response to Porter, the Administration admitted that the changes they made were discretionary. The new regulation expands the number of political appointees that can review—and potentially deny—requests made agency documents. Senior officials at the EPA include Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist who denied the urgency of climate change during a Senate confirmation hearing.
Read the full text of Porter’s letter HERE.
Congresswoman Porter has prioritized transparency with her constituents and holding the Trump Administration accountable. To date, she’s hosted ten public townhalls and public forums in Orange County. In May, Porter called on Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson to explain his agency’s shortcomings in preventing foreclosure in hearing in which Carson confused a real estate term for a cookie. In March, she exposed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Kathy Kraninger for her unfamiliarity with the basics of consumer lending.