EPA fights human testing FOIA request: Demands exorbitant fees for recent, easily accessible docs

The agency continues to obstruct independent investigation of its illegal human testing activities.

We heard through the grapevine that our spotlight on EPA’s illegal human testing program has caused some problems between the agency and the contractor that operates the lab where sick and elderly humans are exposed to high concentrations of diesel exhaust and other “toxic” air pollutants.

When we asked through the Freedom of Information Act for recent communications between EPA and the contractor, the EPA responded:

Mr. Milloy:

This responds to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request EPA-HQ-2013-003804, whereby you requested:

“… copies of all correspondence and documents (electronic and paper) between EPA and TRC Environmental Corporation pertaining to the TRC’s operation and maintenance of the NHEERL in support of EPA’s research on the effects of air pollution on human health since Jan 1, 2010. ​“

The estimated fee for processing your request is $7,120.00. Estimated costs include research ($41/hour x 131 hrs = $5400); photocopying ($.15 = $900); and reviews. Current estimated cost of managerial reviews is approximately $820, depending on the number and levels of review. Other administrative charges may also apply and may add to your cost.

Prepayment is not requested at this time. You are required to furnish written assurance of your willingness to pay the United States Government the full amount for costs incurred as a result of your request by replying to all names associated with this email correspondence within 20 work days of the date on this email correspondence.

Further processing of your request is suspended pending receipt of your written assurance of payment.

You may wish to modify your request to reduce your potential fee obligation. Otherwise, non-response from you will result in the expiration of your request.

131 man-hours to retrieve recent documents (less than 3 years old) that ought to either be in a single place, either physical or electronic? $7,120 for a FOIA request of recent docs?

Sounds like evasion of FOIA, no?

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