Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Environmental Integrity Project v. Small Business Administration

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

August 28, 2015

ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, et al., Defendants

Page 174

          For ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT, SIERRA CLUB, EARTHJUSTICE, Plaintiffs: Thomas Cmar, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, EARTHJUSTICE, Chicago, IL; Abel J. Russ, Jennifer S. Duggan, ENVIRONMENTAL INTEGRITY PROJECT, Washington, DC.

         For SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, Defendant: Javier M. Guzman, LEAD ATTORNEY, U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE, Washington, DC.

Page 175

         MEMORANDUM OPINION

         CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER, United States District Judge.

         As the Court noted in its Memorandum Opinion of August 5, 2015, the Effluent Limitation Guidelines (" ELGs" ) are federal requirements that limit what toxins may be discharged from coal-fired power plants. Plaintiffs Environmental Integrity Project, Earthjustice, and Sierra Club filed Freedom of Information Act (" FOIA" ) requests with the Small Business Administration (" SBA" ) and the Office of Management and Budget (" OMB" ) for records regarding OMB's review of an Environmental Protection Agency (" EPA" ) proposed update to the ELGs. SBA and OMB provided hundreds of documents in response to the requests, but withheld others based on the deliberative process privilege. Plaintiffs brought this action challenging the agencies' assertion of the privilege and their refusal to release allegedly segregable factual information contained in the records they did release.

         In its Order of August 5, 2015, the Court granted summary judgment as to OMB, finding its submissions sufficient to support its privilege assertion. The Court deferred ruling as to SBA, however, because its affidavits and Vaughn Index were largely conclusory and lacked the specificity needed to evaluate a claim of privilege. As a result, the Court ordered that SBA provide its withheld documents to the Court for in camera review. Having reviewed each of the eleven documents submitted by SBA, the Court concludes that the deliberative process privilege applies to ten of those documents, and that the remaining document is unresponsive to Plaintiffs' FOIA request. The Court will therefore grant the remainder of Defendants' motion for summary judgment in favor of SBA.

         I. Background

         This case stems from a proposed change in the Steam Electric ELGs, the regulations limiting the amount of pollutants coal-fired power plants may discharge into rivers, streams, and lakes. See Pls.' Statement of Material Facts (" Pls.' Statement" ) ¶ 1. In April 2013, plaintiffs submitted identical FOIA requests to SBA and OMB. Id. ¶ 7. The requests sought the release of records in three categories:

(1) all records exchanged and all records related to any meetings, telephone conversations, emails, or any other communications between [SBA/OMB] and the utility industry, representatives of the utility industry, trade group, special interests groups, and/or other non-governmental parties related to the Effluent Limitation Guidelines for the Steam Electric Generating Category; wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants; and/or treatment technologies, or best available technology economically achievable (" BAT" ) for wastewater discharges from coal-fired power plants since April 3, 2013;
(2) all records exchanged and all records related to any meetings, telephone conversations, emails, or any other communications between [SBA/OMB] and the EPA; [SBA/OMB], Council on Environmental Quality; Executive Office of the President; and/or White House staff, including, but not limited to, Heather Zichal, Rob Nabors, and Denis McDonough during interagency review

Page 176

for EPA's proposed Steam Electric ELGs Rule; and
(3) all records related to handling of bottom ash wastewater, flue gas desulfurization (FGD) wastewater, and ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.