EPA loves privacy rights, at least its own

by Chris Bennett, WesternFarmPress.com  |  published on March 11, 2013

Despite being in the middle of its own privacy rights scandal that goes straight to the top of the leadership chain, EPA is facing heavy criticism after releasing farm data from 30 states to the Natural Defense Council, Earth Justice and the Pew Charitable Trusts. The three environmental groups had requested the data through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

According to the National Pork Producers Council (NPPC): “EPA gathered the information despite being forced last year to drop a proposed reporting rule for Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) because of concerns about the privacy and biosecurity of family farms.”

EPA collected the farm data “from state water agencies without informing them about its intention to share the information with outside groups.”

“What’s ironic is that, in the name of transparency, EPA released information in secret and violated the privacy rights of farmers across the country,” said R.C. Hunt, NPPC president and Wilson, N.C., hog farmer.

The compliance of EPA to the FOIA request, and the subsequent release of the farm data, is glaring — especially when laid across the backdrop of EPA’s own FOIA controversy.

In December, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson resigned, along with her alter ego, “Richard Windsor.” Richard Windsor is a fake name that Jackson used for a private EPA email account. The hidden email account had been discovered in April of 2012, when the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s (CEI) Christopher Horner found a 2008 EPA memo that mentioned “alias” email accounts. The memo said, “few EPA staff members, usually only high-level staff, even know that these accounts exist.”

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