Description: Action by Utah attorney general seeking documents concerning EPA’s endangerment finding.
Reyes v. EPA
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 06/13/2014 Memorandum Opinion Download Memorandum opinion issued granting summary judgment to EPA. The district court granted EPA’s renewed motion for summary judgment. EPA renewed its motion after completing the tasks required by the court in its September 2013 decision partially granting and partially denying summary judgment. The court found that EPA’s “detailed, non-conclusory” affidavits established that EPA’s search satisfied the reasonableness standard. Plaintiff’s arguments that the search was not adequate because of lack of detail, unexplained methodology, and failure to search all relevant locations and the files of all relevant individuals were not persuasive. The court also found that EPA’s justification for withholding documents on the basis of attorney-client privilege was adequate. 09/30/2013 Memorandum Opinion Download Memorandum opinion issued. The district court accepted in large part the recommendations of the magistrate judge but rejected the conclusion that EPA’s search of relevant documents had been adequate for all portions of the FOIA request. The court found that EPA had not included some portions of the request in one of the three “phases” into which it had divided most of the request, and that for those undesignated portions it had not provided detail about the types of searches, search terms, methods or processes used. The court ordered EPA to perform new searches for responsive documents or to provide proof that its earlier search had met the adequacy standard. The court otherwise rejected plaintiff’s arguments that any delay in response constituted a basis for denying EPA summary judgment and that EPA should have searched files of additional employees and offices where EPA explained its basis for limiting its search. The court also denied plaintiff’s motion to supplement the record with correspondence between EPA and Congress regarding the EPA administrator’s use of “alias email accounts,” citing EPA’s statement that the FOIA search had encompassed documents in both the administrator’s official and internal e-mail accounts. The court also declined to order the disclosure of the internal e-mail address or the e-mail addresses of employees in the Executive Office of the President. The court accepted the recommendation that for 17 documents withheld under the claim of attorney-client privilege, EPA must either disclose such documents or submit supplemental materials explaining in sufficient detail why such documents are subject to the privilege. On the other hand, the court found that EPA had adequately supported the withholding of attorney comments and edits on EPA’s response to comments under the work product doctrine where EPA had received “a flood of comments” attacking its proposed endangerment finding, indicating the likelihood of litigation. The court also agreed with the magistrate judge that EPA fulfilled its FOIA obligations by directing plaintiff to publicly available documents and was not required to identify specific responsive documents. 09/25/2012 Report and Recommendation Download Report and recommendation issued. The Attorney General of Utah commenced a lawsuit against EPA pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) seeking documents concerning the agency’s so-called “endangerment” finding that concluded that greenhouse gases could be regulated under the Clean Air Act. EPA withheld certain documents, claiming that such documents were except from disclosure. After the lawsuit was filed, EPA moved for summary judgment. A magistrate judge recommended that the motion be granted in part, holding that the agency adequately conducted a search of relevant documents concerning the FOIA request, but that certain documents withheld pursuant to the attorney-client privilege should be disclosed.