Obama Openness Promise Still Unfulfilled at MSHA

June 3, 2009

President Obama seemed to be signaling a new government openness when he issued several decrees on the subject his first day in office. In months since, the orders were translated into specifics for all government agencies. So far, however, the Mine Safety and Health Administration seems not to have gotten the memo.

Mine safety attorney Tony Oppegard filed a FOIA request Oct. 28, 2008, for some witness statements — a kind of information MSHA had provided many times before. MSHA denied the request Nov. 24, 2008, citing the FOIA law enforcement exemption (7) among others, claiming it feared disclosure of confidential sources.
 
"Mine Safety and Health News (MSHN) reports that it, too, has had difficulty extracting information from MSHA through FOIA requests and largely placed the blame on the Bush administration's approach to FOIA," according to a story in the watchdog publication OMB Watcher.