EPA Settles Court Bid To Keep Luminant Pollution Data "Confidential" (Cough, Cough)

October 9, 2013

A U.S. district judge on October 2, 2013, brushed aside claims by EPA that information related to pollution from the Luminant Corporation's coal-burning power plants was "confidential business information."

Specious CBI claims seem to have been growing as an excuse for withholding public-interest information over the past decade. In this case, the CBI claim was asserted in court by EPA, not Luminant. While not a party to the actual case or settlement, documents show that Luminant had claimed CBI status for much of the information at issue in correspondence with EPA.

The Sierra Club and the Environmental Integrity Project had gone to court after EPA partially denied their 2010 Freedom of Information Act request for information that ought to be publicly disclosed as part of its Clean Air Act permit. A settlement agreement approved October 2 by Judge Maria-Elena James cleared the way for EPA and the groups to renegotiate the groups' FOIA request.. Courthouse News Service reporter Rebekay Kearn had the story.

"The groups asked to see information about Luminant's air emissions, the type of fuel used at its facilities, its various production processes, and any permits Luminant sought at the local, state and federal levels," Kearn reported. "The groups claimed the documents would prove that Luminant was violating the Clean Air Act at one of its Texas plants and would enable them to pursue legal action against the company."

"The EPA sent some of the requested documents in April 2010," Kearns story said, "but denied the groups access to roughly 350,000 pages of material because it claimed the documents contained Luminant's confidential business information."