"Two separate environmental lawsuits were filed Wednesday challenging the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) changes to its public records policy.
The two suits, filed separately by four environmental groups in the Federal District Court of Northern California and the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, each argue that the EPA’s newly implemented Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) rule, submitted at the end of June without a public comment period, was intended to prevent the public from receiving requested public information and to hide information from requesters.
The suit brought by the Center for Biological Diversity and Environmental Integrity Project in the Washington court alleges that the EPA’s final FOIA rule was “a sweeping overhaul of the agency’s rules governing its process for responding to records requests.”
Specifically, it challenges provisions included in the new EPA rule, saying that it gives the agency the authority to deny FOIA requests on the basis of a records’ “responsiveness,” and therefore delays record releases. The suit also challenges the fact that the final rule was submitted to the federal register without a public comment period."