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EPA commits to responding to old FOIA requests as Trump-era inquiries gather dust

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency received a whopping 11,493 Freedom of Information Act requests in fiscal year 2017, but instead of giving priority to the most recent—and, therefore, most relevant—inquiries, Administrator Scott Pruitt has announced that the agency will focus on clearing the backlog of 652 the requests filed before Trump took office. The EPA says it’s on track to respond to 70 percent of those Obama-era FOIAs by the end of this calendar year. Trump-era information requests, on the other hand, are facing significant delays. E&E News, for example, reports that it filed a FOIA request in April 2017—after the EPA scrubbed climate change facts from its website—and the agency’s current ETA for a response is June 2018. "What people are interested in are the questionable activities of this administration, not the one that has left office," John Walke, director of NRDC’s Clean Air Project, told E&E News. "It is clearly a political distraction to deflect from their own failings on transparency.” By law, agencies have 20 business days to respond to a FOIA request. Ticktock. 

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