The EPA has been scrutinized for “dramatically scaling back” a fine levied in 2016 against Syngenta, an agriculture company, for violating EPA pesticide regulations and sickening Hawaii farmworkers. The fine reduction from $4.8 billion to $150,000 was announced in February 2018 and occurred during the short tenure of Jeffrey Sands, a former Syngenta lobbyist, as Administrator Pruitt’s Senior Agricultural Advisor. Sands has said he “was in no way involved with the decision to reduce the fine.” Though Sands denies involvement with the decision, the timing of the reduction raises serious questions, especially because Sands left the EPA less than one month after the fine was reduced, making his total time at EPA five months. Further, denying involvement in making the decision does not rule out the possibility that Sands facilitated meetings between other EPA officials and Syngenta or otherwise performed tasks that led to the fine reduction.
Therefore, CREW requests copies of Jeffrey Sand’s communications pertaining or relating to “Syngenta.” Release of the requested documents would reveal the extent of Sands’ involvement and help give the public a better understanding of the circumstances that led to Syngenta’s fine reduction.