"Critics of the Obama administration have gotten a lot of mileage by claiming ideological bias at the Environmental Protection Agency. But a POLITICO analysis of the evidence shows holes in their case."
"At the heart of the debate are the fees EPA charges when people or groups request documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The critics allege a shocking disparity: EPA waives fees for liberal groups more than 90 percent of time, they say, while rejecting more than 70 to 90 percent of waiver requests from conservative groups.
News outlets like Fox News have amplified that claim, painting EPA as a rogue agency akin to the Internal Revenue Service, as have Republican lawmakers like Louisiana Sen. David Vitter and California Rep. Darrell Issa. Twelve states’ attorneys general also cited the statistic last week in a lawsuit they filed over EPA’s denial of a FOIA request. The numbers, which originated from a brief analysis this spring by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, have been repeated enough now to take on the status of accepted fact on the right.
But POLITICO found a much more modest disparity after examining records of nearly 700 EPA decisions over 15 months: Liberal requesters received fee waivers 52 percent of the time, compared with a 39 percent rate for conservatives."