Tag Archives: Freedom of Information Act

CoA Institute Lawsuit Prompts Archivist to Examine Potential Record Destruction at NOAA

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) filed a lawsuit last summer against the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) seeking copies of electronic records created through the agency’s Google-based email platform. These types of records are commonly known as “instant messages.” The Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) requests at issue (available here and here) also sought formal agency guidance on the retention of “Google Chat” or “Google Hangouts” messages. We had already learned, through earlier investigation, that at least one internal NOAA handbook, dating from March 2012, instructed agency employees to treat all chat messages as “off the record,” raising concerns about potential unlawful record destruction at NOAA. >click to read< 15:22

NOAA FOIA Response Suggests Refusal to Search Council Member Email Accounts for Records on At-Sea Monitoring Amendment

Earlier this month, Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) filed an administrative appeal of a final response by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) to CoA Institute’s Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”) request concerning NOAA’s efforts to expand industry funded at-sea monitoring—specifically, to the herring and mackerel fisheries—and to lay the foundation for industry funding across all of New England and the Mid-Atlantic. NOAA’s processing of the request suggests that the agency failed to search email accounts belonging to members of the fishery management councils even though they are subject to public disclosure. Based on the limited records that were disclosed, NOAA’s search appears improperly limited to its own employees. >click to read< 15:00

Trump’s monument review is as secretive as Obama’s designations

Presidential use of the Antiquities Act is ripe for abuse, as major decisions impacting vast public lands, natural resources, property rights, livelihoods and private industry are left to the sole discretion of the president. After such a unilateral designation, the president does not need to substantiate his decision in any meaningful way, beyond the use of a few magic words on the face of the proclamation. It seemed like a positive step when President Trump in April issued an executive order seeking public input for a review of national monument designations over the last two decades. But it now appears that any hope for additional transparency may have been premature. click here to read the story 19:25

Fishermen in the Northeast win a small victory

duncey peteAccording to Climate Wire, an online publication of Environment and Energy Publishing LLC, New Bedford native son Bob Vanasse uncovered, through the use of Freedom of Information Act requests on behalf of Saving Seafood in Washington, D.C., a cluster of emails being circulated among several environmental groups hoping the president would be convinced to announce the New England monuments in Chile. The emails urged recipients to keep the plan a secret. “I hope no one is talking about Chile to the outside world,” an email from Conservation Law Foundation Interim President Peter Shelley said. Read the rest here 09:49

Longlines Killing Pacific Seabirds at Record Rate – NOAA Admits Official Counts Significantly Underestimate True By-Catch Toll

“NOAA implemented its ‘National Plan of Action for the Reduction of Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries’ back in 2003 but these numbers indicate that the plan needs more work,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, who obtained emails and other records from NOAA under the Freedom of Information Act. “Unfortunately, the records do not reflect any NOAA plans, other than maintaining carcass counts, for upgrading seabird safeguards.” [email protected]

NOAA Responds to Massachusetts legislators on cod, haddock, and yellowtail flounder: the answer is still no

Many legal observers, Members of Congress and elected officials disagree with that interpretation. Saving Seafood requested the legal opinion of the General Counsel under the Freedom of Information Act. The Department found 2logo9 pages of written material constituting the advice, but refused to release any of them under 5 U.S.C. § 552(b)(5), which exempts from disclosure inter-agency or intra-agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency. Saving Seafood continues to ask the agency to explain their legal rationale in the face of such widespread disagreement from numerous legislators and lawyers with qualifications to comment. continued