FIA-18-0037 - In the Matter of Natural Resources Defense Council

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On December 3, 2018, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) denied a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appeal filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council (Appellant) from a final determination issued by the Department of Energy's Office of Public Information (OPI). On appeal, Appellant asserted that OPI had improperly redacted factual information contained in a mercury storage schedule (Schedule) pursuant to Exemption 5 and had not disclosed reasonably segregable information contained within the Schedule. OHA concluded that the Schedule, which a subordinate employee prepared for a superior to summarize the steps and time required for DOE to pursue one approach to managing mercury storage, was pre-decisional and deliberative in nature rather than factual. Therefore, OHA concluded that OPI properly redacted the information contained in the Schedule pursuant to Exemption 5. Furthermore, OHA concluded that the little factual information contained in the Schedule was not reasonably segregable because it represented a small fraction of the contents of the Schedule and would have had no independent meaning if disclosed in light of the volume of information protected from disclosure pursuant to Exemption 5. Accordingly, OHA denied Appellant's appeal. OHA Case No. FIA-18-0037.