Statement on the Enforcement-Sensitive Documents of the Environmental Protection Agency

February 18, 1983

I am very pleased to learn that we have been able to reach agreement with the Congress on the procedures for handling the EPA enforcement-sensitive documents that have been sought by Mr. Levitas' subcommittee and the contempt citation of Administrator Gorsuch. The agreement strikes an appropriate balance in that it is consistent with the doctrine of executive privilege, while it also assures that necessary information is made available to the Congress in the legitimate pursuit of its responsibilities. I thank Mr. Levitas for his cooperation and statesmanship in effecting this resolution.

I asserted executive privilege as to the enforcement-sensitive documents because I have a constitutional obligation to the people -- and to those who have held this Office in the past and will hold it in the future -- to ensure that the integrity of sensitive law enforcement documents be preserved.

Under our constitutional system, the legislative branch has a responsibility for oversight and the executive branch has a responsibility for enforcing the laws. Occasionally there is a legitimate dispute over the respective roles of each. This is nothing new -- it has been going on for almost 200 years. In the past the branches have managed to reach compromises that acknowledge and preserve the legitimate interests of each branch. What we both sought to do in these negotiations was to reach a solution which would do that. That is what we have done.

Note: The agreement is detailed in a 5-page document entitled ``Memorandum of Understanding Between the Committee on Public Works and Transportation and the Department of Justice Concerning Documents Subpoenaed From the Environmental Protection Agency.'' The document was signed by Representative Elliott H. Levitas, chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight of the House Committee on Public Works and Transportation, Counsel to the President Fred F. Fielding, and Deputy Attorney General Edward C. Schmults, following their meeting on February 18.