Monday, April 28, 2014

EPA rejects second FOIA fee waiver

Our government is still working to withhold secrets from you about the excessing, handling and disposal of STORIS.

I submitted a second Freedom of Information Act Request on Feb. 17 to the EPA to secure information and documentation that would have been created after the first set of FOIAs on November 4, documentation that may not have existed at the time.

This included communication between EPA, the parties involved with the destruction of STORIS and how they would be handling and reacting to the requests for information from the media, other interested parties such as legislators, and me.

This also includes the associated and necessary paperwork for the repatriation to the United States of electrical material removed from STORIS that a Mexican official told a reporter from the Associated Press would be taking place. The only reason this repatriation would be taking place is if PCBs were found as we suspected.

The EPA has rejected my fee waiver request, stating that my stated intent to disseminate the information doesn’t cover the general public. It is clearly stated how the information will be disseminated and if sending the information to the U.S. and Mexican media and publishing and interpreting the information on various Web sites associated with STORIS and environmental activist groups doesn’t involve reaching out to the general public, I don’t know what will. It’s hair-splitting and typical government bureaucracy at its best.

EPA wants this issue to go away and they don’t want the information out. They want to chase us off with the threat of large reproduction and collation fees.

Read the original FOIA request here:

I believe the original request was clear enough to fulfill the six required criteria for a fee waiver, yet I still received a request to outline the six factors to fulfill the fee waiver request:

I asked for an explanation in writing for why the original request was deficient:

Instead, I received the denial as a response:

This is information that belongs to us as Americans and as supporters of STORIS.

In 2009, President Obama announced that Federal Agencies were to err on the side of openness when it came to Freedom of Information Act Requests. 

White House position on Open Government

As explained, the information requested is of great public interest because we have seen a nationally significant historic ship, designated as a historic resource worth preservation by listing on the National Register of Historic Places, exported for scrapping in Mexico as a direct result of the actions of several U.S. Federal Agencies. There are likely to be illegal aspects of this situation. We deserve to know the truth. The people responsible work for US, the American taxpayer, and they are not above reproach nor are they above the law. Their actions are open to scrutiny and criticism and they need to face accountability and responsibility for what they’ve allowed to happen.

This obstructionist pattern of actions by the various agencies involved, blocking my attempts on behalf of the nonprofit STORIS Museum and The Last Patrol Museum and their supporters as well as all of the U.S. Coast Guard veterans and Americans in general who support and appreciate the history and accomplishments of our nation, is certainly NOT ERRING ON THE SIDE OF OPENNESS.

This is our government withholding the truth.

(Originally posted Feb. 26, 2014)

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