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FOIA News: More on congressional records; former OIP director weighs in

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Effort to shield documents sparks transparency debate

By Geof Koss, E&E News  May 10, 2017

Are House Republicans conspiring with the Trump administration to evade a key federal open-records law? Or is Congress simply reasserting a long-standing legal prerogative it says is essential to conducting oversight of the executive branch?

It depends on whom you ask.

Since January, congressional staffers say they've begun to notice distinct signatures on emails sent to federal agencies from House addresses, which in effect state that the contents of the messages are not considered "agency records" for purposes of compliance with the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

Read more here.

 

FOIA News: Exemption 9 upheld in D.C. Circuit case

FOIA News (2017)Allan BlutsteinComment

Oh, well. California water info can remain secret, court rules

BY Michael Doyle, Miami Herald, May 9, 2017

Crucial details about the location and depth of certain California water wells can be kept secret, and out of the hands of an environmental group, a top federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.

Although targeting a specific request for California information, the ruling by what’s sometimes called the nation’s second-highest court could shape at least a few of the other Freedom of Information Act requests nationwide. More than 700,000 FOIA requests were filed in Fiscal 2014, and the question of what can be denied recurs often.

Tuesday’s unanimous decision lumped water wells with those drilled for oil and gas production. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that the water well information fits under a long-standing exemption to FOIA. The decision thwarted AquAlliance, the Chico, Calif.-based group that sought the information.

Read more here.

FOIA News: FTC revises FOIA regulations

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

The Federal Trade Commission published a final rule implementing new FOIA regulations in today's issue of the Federal Register.  The changes are meant to implement the FOIA Improvement Act of 2016.  Specifically, the FTC is modifying its definition of a "representative of the news media" and its schedule of direct costs.  The agency is also making some other minor technical changes.  The FTC received two comments in response to its December 22, 2016 proposed rule.  Today's final rule is effective immediately.

FOIA News: HUD Corrects FOIA Regulations

FOIA News (2017)Ryan MulveyComment

The Department of Housing and Urban Development published a correction to its January 12, 2017 final rule implementing new FOIA regulations in today's issue of the Federal Register.  Specifically, the agency is correcting its inadvertent exclusion of three of the nine statutory FOIA exemptions, and its inclusion of a duplication exemption.  HUD is also making other minor technical changes.  The correction is effective immediately.