Judge Nixes NYT Lawsuit Forcing EPA To Roll Out FOIA’d Docs On Rolling Basis

Chris White | Energy Reporter

A federal judge ditched a lawsuit Tuesday from The New York Times asking the court to force the Environmental Protection Agency to provide a rolling trove of publicly requested information as documents become available.

TheNYT’s lawsuit asked for former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s detailed schedule to be released on a rolling basis, Politico reported Wednesday. The lawsuit argues that a section of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires agencies to post to documents requested at least three times.

Judge John Bates of the U.S. District Court for D.C. was not swayed. FOIA law “does not enable plaintiffs to seek all future entries in the Administrator’s detailed calendar on a rolling basis; it only requires an agency to make publicly available documents that have already been created, requested, and released in the past,” he said.

He also told TheNYT that only congress can make changes to the country’s FOIA laws. Reporters filed about 10,970 FOIA requests against the agency in 2017. The current record number of files in a full year was 11,820 in fiscal year 2007 during the Bush administration. (RELATED: Reporters Have Filed A Ridiculous Number Of FOIA Requests Against Trump’s EPA)

Most of the requests are overly broad, according to an analysis conducted in 2017 from The Washington Examiner. One example is from NYT reporter Eric Lipton, who sought any correspondence that includes his name. He was the subject of withering criticism from the EPA after his paper reported the agency supposedly rejected research showing the harmful effects from the pesticide chlorpyrifos.

TheNYT reported “false facts” about Pruitt’s decision not to ban chlorpyrifos, the agency noted in an August 2017 press statement. The agency claimed that Lipton withheld information from an Aug. 18 article showing that an appeals court upheld the EPA’s ruling.

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