Natural Resources Defense Council v. Federal Maritime Commission
This case primarily challenged the Federal Maritime Commission’s decision to deny NRDC a fee waiver in conjunction with NRDC’s FOIA request for documents about FMC’s investigation of the clean trucks programs at two California ports. In denying NRDC’s fee waiver request, FMC claimed that NRDC had a commercial interest in the documents because of its advocacy efforts in favor of the clean trucks programs, which included some coalitions with labor unions on the issue of an “employee mandate.” That mandate, which would require truck drivers authorized to enter the ports to be employees of the trucking companies rather than independent contractors, was part of a broader goal to reduce the emissions from trucks at the ports. Although FMC could not identify any way that NRDC would benefit financially from the documents at issue, it claimed that the truck driver’s potential for higher wages was a sort of vicarious commercial interest of NRDC’s. After the case was briefed, FMC agreed to waive the fees and produced the records.