- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Environmental Protection Agency acknowledged Tuesday that it released the personal information of thousands of farmers and ranchers to environmental activists.

“[S]ome of the personal information that could have been protected … was released,” a document obtained by Fox News read. Though the EPA had already sent out the information, the agency now says it has since asked the environmental groups to “return the information,” Fox reports.

Sen. John Thune had originally complained about the breach, slamming the agency for trying to clean up its mess retroactively.

“It is inexcusable for the EPA to release the personal information of American families and then call for it back, knowing full well that the erroneously released information will never be fully returned,” he said in a statement to FoxNews.com. “While EPA acknowledging that it erred is a first step, more must be done to protect the personal information of our farmers and ranchers now and in the future. I will continue to demand answers from the EPA on how this information was collected and why it is still being distributed to extreme environmental groups to the detriment of our farm and ranch families.”

The information of the farmers was sought through a Freedom of Information Act request by Earth Justice, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Pew Charitable Trust. The groups were given the names, email addresses, phone numbers and personal addresses of roughly 80,000 farmers and ranchers, Fox reports.

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