FOIA - Exemptions and Appeals | Region 10 | US EPA

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FOIA - Exemptions and Appeals

There are nine exemptions under which EPA can withhold or deny records in part or in full:

1. Matter of National Defense of Foreign Policy - An agency may withhold records concerning national defense or foreign policy.

2. Internal Agency Rules - An agency may withhold records related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of the agency.

3. Information Exempted by Other Statutes - Records that are specifically exempted from disclosure under another federal law are exempt from disclosure under FOIA.

4. Trade Secrets, Commercial or Financial Information (Confidential Business Information) - An agency is required to withhold trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person that is privileged or confidential. EPA regulations elaborating on this exemption are found at 40 CFR Part 2, Subpart B.

5. Privileged Inter-Agency or Intra-Agency Memoranda - An agency may withhold from disclosure inter-agency or intra-agency memoranda or letters which fall under one or more of the privileges recognized in civil discovery, including:

  • Deliberative process privilege
  • Attorney work-product privilege
  • Attorney-client privilege
  • Government commercial information privilege
  • Expert witness report privilege
  • Investigative report privilege
  • Confidential informant privilege
6. Personal Privacy - An agency is required to withhold all information about individuals in personnel, medical and similar files, the disclosure of which would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

7. Records or Information Compiled for Law Enforcement Purposes
An agency may withhold records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes where release could reasonably be expected to:

  • Interference with enforcement proceedings;
  • Deprive a person of the right to a fair trial;
  • Be an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;
  • Disclose identity of confidential source;
  • Reveal investigory techniques, procedures or guidelines;
  • Endanger the life or safety of any individual.
8. Records of Financial Institutions
Reports prepared for agencies responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions may be withheld.

9. Geological and Geophysical Information and Data Concerning Wells
An agency may withhold geological and geophysical information and data (including maps) concerning wells.

Right to Appeal

Requesters have the right to appeal the following decisions:

  • EPA's decision to withhold all or portions of records;
  • When the Agency indicates there are no records responsive;
  • A denial for waiver of fees;
  • When a request for expedited processing is denied.
Your appeal must reference:

  • Request Identification Number (RIN);
  • Date of the initial denial determination;
  • Name and address of the person who issued the denial;
  • Your appeal should also identify the records to which access was denied.
Your written appeal (including appeals to a fee waiver denial) must be submitted to the address below no later than 30 calendar days from the date of the denial letter:

    U.S. EPA
    Freedom of Information Operations Office
    1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
    Mailstop 2822T
    Washington, D.C. 20460

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