Description: Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking to compel disclosure by the Council on Environmental Quality of records related to its advance notice of proposed rulemaking for amendments to the National Environmental Policy Act.
Southern Environmental Law Center v. Council on Environmental Quality
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/14/2020 Memorandum Opinion Download CEQ ordered to produce unredacted versions of certain records. Federal Court Ordered FOIA Production of CEQ Records Related to NEPA Rulemaking. In a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by Southern Environmental Law Center in 2018, the federal district court for the Western District of Virginia ordered the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) to produce unredacted versions of a number records related to CEQ’s advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPRM) for amendments to the the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations. The court concluded that CEQ had not demonstrated it would suffer “a reasonably foreseeable harm” from unredacted production. The records included spreadsheets tracking and analyzing comments, draft ANPRM fact sheets, meeting agendas, and emails and meeting invitations regarding CEQ’s process for managing comments. 03/18/2020 Memorandum Opinion Download Memorandum opinion issued regarding earlier denial of request to enjoin closure of notice and comment period on proposed NEPA regulations. Federal Court Declined to Bar CEQ from Closing Comment Period on Proposed NEPA Regulations. In an environmental organization’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), a Virginia federal court denied the organization’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining CEQ from closing the comment period on proposed amendments to the NEPA regulations. The FOIA request at issue in the case was for records related to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking for the NEPA regulations. The court concluded both that FOIA did not grant it the injunctive power to take such action since doing so would disrupt the statutory scheme of the Administrative Procedure Act. 03/09/2020 Order Download Motion for a preliminary injunction denied with respect to request to enjoin closure of notice and comment period on proposed NEPA regulations. 02/28/2020 Opposition Download Opposition filed by defendants to plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. 02/13/2020 Motion Download Memorandum filed in support of plaintiff's motion for preliminary injunction. FOIA Plaintiff Asked Court to Bar CEQ from Closing Comment Period on Proposed NEPA Regulations. The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) filed a motion in a pending Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) case against the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) asking the court to bar CEQ from closing the comment period on its proposed National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) regulations until CEQ provides documents requested by SELC in 2018. The FOIA request sought records related to the advance notice of proposed rulemaking that CEQ issued in June 2018. In its motion, SELC argued that a preliminary injunction was necessary “to stop CEQ from making unprecedented sweeping changes to the regulations that implement NEPA before it has provided SELC and the public a full and complete opportunity to understand and participate in the rulemaking process.” SELC said the proposed rule was “unprecedented in scope” and would, among other things, “remov[e] the requirement that federal agencies consider long term, widespread impacts like climate change.” 11/30/2018 Complaint Download Complaint filed.