In January 2018, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) sent a request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for records concerning the involvement of Michael Dourson, former nominee to become Assistant Administrator of the Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention, in EPA’s evaluation of methylene chloride, N-methylpyrrolidone, and/or trichloroethylene. EPA failed to produce the requested records. On April 9, 2018, NRDC, represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, filed suit seeking disclosure of the requested records.
After we filed suit, EPA conducted a search, identified responsive records, agreed to a production schedule, and released certain records. After reviewing the documents produced, we informed EPA that its search was inadequate and that it had failed to justify its withholdings under FOIA Exemption 5. The Court ordered EPA to conduct a supplemental search. EPA did so and produced additional records. The Court ordered EPA to produce a draft Vaughn index and supporting declaration addressing the basis for EPA’s withholdings under FOIA Exemption 5 and the sufficiency of its search. EPA did so and later produced additional records demanded by plaintiff.