FIA-20-0013 - In the Matter of Food & Water Watch

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On January 13, 2020, the Office of Hearings and Appeals (OHA) granted in part a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Appeal filed by Food & Water Watch from a final determination issued by the Department of Energy's Office of Public Information (OPI). On Appeal, the Appellant argued that the Department over-broadly applied Exemptions 4 and 5 to withhold otherwise releasable information, failed to segregate responsive material therein, and failed to locate and provide any information related to a loan guarantee application's second phase. After review, OHA determined that (1) although OPI appropriately applied Exemption 4 post-Argus Leader to withhold information contained in the documents, the documents may contain information that should be released because OHA found examples of redacted nonexempt material and inconsistent withholdings; (2) OPI appropriately applied Exemption 5 to withhold information; and (3) OPI failed to conduct an adequate search related to the Appellant's request for communications between DOE official and external parties. OHA therefore granted the Appeal and remanded the case back to OPI to conduct further review of the documents and conduct a further search for documents in response to the Appellant's request. OHA Case No. FIA-20-0013.