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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Purpose for the FOIA Request to the EPA

The purpose of issuing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is to obtain information. Nothing more, nothing less.

Citizens have a right to know what information their government has, and why it does or does not do certain things. The FOIA was established for this expressed purpose.

Newspapers (real ones), citizens groups and even individuals routinely issue FOIA
requests to all branches of government. The rules by which the information is supposed to be released are well documented in the federal statutes.

Extra emphasis on the citizens right to know via the
FOIA mechanism was recently demonstrated by Attorney General Eric Holder's March 19, 2009 memorandum to the head of all federal agencies (which includes the EPA). In that directive, Attorney General Holder made it quite clear that federal agencies are to err on the side of openness and the citizens right to know when responding to FOIA requests.

The EPA was asked now fourteen months ago to produce whatever information they had regarding the well documented occurrences of toxic substances being used, dumped or otherwise introduced into the Marco Island environment. The EPA refused.

The EPA's refusal was appealed. The appellate decision was handed down just last month (see blog posting below). Any objective person reading that decision will learn that:
  1. The EPA did find there was contamination of Marco Island
  2. The EPA criminal division did investigate the contamination of Marco Island
  3. The EPA did find the parties responsible for the contamination of Marco Island
Unfortunately, the decision handed down denied for the most part our request for the information. The curious reason cited is that by releasing the information, those responsible for the contamination will be embarrassed. Therefore proving our point: contamination occurred and the EPA knows who is responsible.

We ague that the citizens right to know the extent of the contamination and the extent of the remediation of that contamination (if any) far outweighs the "embarrassment" of those responsible.

We will see if our argument prevails.

Those who disagree with the right of the citizens seeking information from their government don't understand their form of government. Those besmirching the citizens exercising their FOIA rights have something to hide.

One would think that the City and its apologists would rejoice at this Don Quixotesque endeavour. For if the City and its apologists are certain that nothing bad occurred, that there was no contamination, that the City's "investigation" was genuine, then why get upset over a FOIA request? It will reveal nothing, right?

Or, are the predictable exposures by the "paper" of those its manipulators don't like, threats, hoary racial tropes, denigration, false denials and intimidation being made because there is something that is best kept buried?

We'll see.


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