But the EPA of the current administration has been truly spectacular in its blatant scientization of politics. If the administration wants to penalize natural gas in order to make its $72 billion in squandered green energy corporate welfare look good, the EPA is happy to blame everything on fracking - until a judge orders them to knock it off. And if their friends with canoes file a lawsuit against them, they are happy to 'settle' the lawsuit by declaring water a pollutant and demanding that a county in West Virginia spend $500 million so there will be better canoeing. Come election time, all the new regulations they were waiting to implement were conveniently delayed until after the November 2012 election.
It's been a shocking abuse of power, more like royal fiat than government of the people, and now they have added to it; they released personal information on thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental groups.
It's no secret that plenty of environmental groups are unhinged; they are not just anti-science, they are anti-people. No one in the EPA would want a lot of these loons showing up on their own doorsteps, so why would they place farmers and their families at risk by giving the personal addresses of 80,000 farmers and ranchers to Earth Justice, the strong-arm of Sierra Club?
Because they didn't know that would be a violation of the Privacy Act, they said. Yes, a well-funded 17,000-person government agency did not understand the Privacy Act, we are to believe. They claim they only thought they were being transparent and replying to a Freedom of Information Act request. The wholesome 'awww shucks, we did not know we were doing anything wrong' act is not sitting well. The Department of Homeland Defense has said they should not be creating these lists at all, yet they are giving them out to environmental groups without hesitation. Would they have honored a Freedom of Information Act request for all of the names and addresses of EPA employees if a front group for Shell Oil asked for it?
No, but because it is evil farmers they gave out names, phone numbers, addresses and even the names of deceased family members. Won't these ranchers enjoy getting a letter saying their deceased grandmother would be ashamed of them for raising cattle? They won't be hard to find, the EPA gave out their geographic coordinates too. Maybe the environmental groups can borrow one of those hunter harassment drones from PETA and buzz farmers with cameras.
The environmental groups say they only wanted the addresses for 80,000 farmers and ranches because they cause so much water pollution and they want to show the EPA how poorly they are enforcing the Clean Water Act. Well, nothing to be alarmed at there, unless you are a farmer and care about your family or the family of your employees.
Pew Charitable Trusts, also a signatory to the FOIA request and large funder of Earth Justice, returned the names and addresses after South Dakota Senator John Thune found out about the EPA's wanton disregard for the safety of his constituents and demanded an explanation, forcing the EPA to ask for the names back. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which also got the personal information, says it does not endorse eco-terrorism so there is no need to return the information.
That should make farmers feel a lot safer. Not that returning the documents would make anyone feel safe anyway.
"It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the erroneously released information will never be fully returned," Thune wrote in a statement to FoxNews.com. "While EPA acknowledging that it erred is a first step, more must be done to protect the personal information of our farmers and ranchers now and in the future. I will continue to demand answers from the EPA on how this information was collected and why it is still being distributed to extreme environmental groups to the detriment of our farm and ranch families."
Fox News? But aren't they the evil, right wing, anti-science bad guys? They're also oddly the only large news organization that covered the story. We can only wonder how many news organizations would have covered it if Exxon obtained the names of all environmental group employees.
The EPA insists these groups could have found it out anyway. All the information is recorded somewhere, they note. Well, that's true, so if anyone wants to publish the address of EPA Acting Bob Perciasepe and his 17,000 employees and tens of thousands of contractors, you are welcome to do so in a comment. It's just freedom of information and transparency, after all.