The Hill Gets It Wrong On New EPA FOIA Regulation
EPA has finalized a new regulation which will bring the Agency into compliance with the Congressional amendments to FOIA from 2007, 2009, and 2016. Congress provided all federal departments and agencies until the end of 2016 to update their FOIA regulations, the Obama administration failed to meet this deadline.
The Hill used a false premise and ran a grossly inaccurate story explaining the new regulation. EPA has asked for a retraction.
THE HILL'S FALSE HEADLINE
The headline above is false, EPA is not "expanding" political appointees powers to turn down FOIA requests.
What the Agency has done with this new rule is simply restated in a single place the political and career Agency officials who are authorized to issue determinations under the FOIA statute. The 2002 regulation was ambiguous in its description of who held this authority previously, and the 2019 regulation will provide clarity.
THE HILL'S FALSE QUOTES
The 2019 regulation does not grant any additional authorities such as the ability to "reject" FOIA requests by claiming "no records." A response that yields "no records" is simply a request in which a search has been conducted and no responsive records are found, it is a frequent determination that has existed since the passage of the FOIA, and has been available to any official authorized to issue FOIA determinations. This new regulation brings EPA into compliance with the law, which the previous administration failed to do.
MORE OF THE HILL'S FALSE QUOTES
THIS IS NOT NEW.
At all federal departments and agencies this has been the case since the passage of FOIA, all of these options are available for every request that comes into the Agency.
AND MORE FALSE REPORTING FROM THE HILL
THIS IS COMPLETELY FALSE.
EPA's regulations cannot change federal statute. When an Agency discovers responsive documents they are released, in accordance with the law. EPA will continue to interpret the FOIA regulations in accordance with the statute and the courts.