Environmental Health Trust Charges Federal Communications Commission with Stonewalling Freedom Of Information Act Request

EHT believes the FCC is stonewalling the FOIA request it filed in January.

Environmental Health Trust (EHT), a nonprofit organization dedicated to identifying and controlling environmental health hazards, has filed an appeal to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the FCC's refusal to disclose documents solicited by EHT on January 5, 2011 under the Freedom Of Information Act. The appeal was filed on EHT's behalf by the Washington, DC-based law firm Swankin & Turner.

In September 2009, the FCC abruptly removed advice on its website regarding the purchase of lower-SAR (specific absorption rate) cell phones. Additionally, although the FCC site continued to list steps that individuals can take to reduce their exposure to cell phone radiation, the FCC began at this time to preface these tips with the following disclaimer: "The FCC does not endorse the need for these practices..." Subsequently, EHT filed a formal request to the FCC for copies of all correspondence leading to these changes to its website. However, the FCC did not supply the requested information.

EHT believes the FCC is stonewalling the FOIA request it filed in January. This FOIA filing requested in part, "any document received or generated by any party acting under contract with the FCC to perform any work pertaining to cellular telephone policy and SAR, which document(s) authenticate, reflect, or embody communication between the FCC and the CTIA-the Wireless Association employee, lobbyist or consultant," and specifically requested "all correspondence and information as to who requested the changes to the FCC website and the dates the changes were requested and the dates the changes were made and who at the FCC made the changes."

The FCC's response on March 3, 2011 said in part, "We are withholding...draft versions of two fact sheets and internal email regarding the revisions."

L. Lloyd Morgan, Senior Research Fellow for EHT, said, "It would appear that the FCC does not want to disclose its possible involvement with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA). Nor does the FCC seem eager to shed light on something else: the CTIA's apparent desire to have the FCC's web pages dovetail to the CTIA's own assertions [regarding cell phone safety] in their July 17 lawsuit against the City of San Francisco's Right To Know ordinance."

James Turner, attorney-of-record for EHT, added, "The FCC has withheld information the law requires it to release. This appeal allows the agency to correct its error before the courts have to do it."

Devra Lee Davis, PhD, MPH, President of Environmental Health Trust, said, "Democracy is imperiled when the government withholds information from the public about our basic health and safety. The FCC has a duty to explain what's behind the agency's sudden about-face regarding cell phone safety. We call on the FCC to do the right thing."

For more details about the events leading up to EHT's initial FOIA request, please visit: www.prweb.com/releases/2011/1/prweb8074843.htm

About Environmental Health Trust

Environmental Health Trust (EHT) educates individuals, health professionals and communities about controllable environmental health risks and policy changes needed to reduce those risks. Current multi-media projects include: local and national campaigns to ban smoking and asbestos; working with international physician and worker safety groups to warn about the risks of inappropriate use of diagnostic radiation and cell phones, exploring what factors lie behind puzzlingly high rates of fibroid tumors, breast cancer and endometriosis in young African American women, and building environmental wellness programs in Wyoming and Pennsylvania to address the environmental impacts of energy development, the built environment and radon. EHT was created with the goal of promoting health and preventing disease one person, one community and one nation at a time. Capitalizing on growing public interest in Dr. Devra Lee Davis's popular books, When Smoke Ran Like Water, a National Book Award Finalist, and The Secret History of the War on Cancer, and recent documentary films, the foundation's website will become the go to place for clear, science-based information to prevent environmentally based disease and promote health, and will have portals for the general public, children, and health professionals. For more information about getting involved in the numerous special projects spearheaded by the EHT, please log on to www.ehtrust.org.