African elephant emails

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Department of the Interior of the United States of America.
Awaiting Acknowledgement


From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Requested Records

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for emails between July 1, 2017 and November 20, 2017 mentioning "elephant" that were sent to or from any of the following individuals:

1. Assistant Deputy Secretary Todd Willens
2. Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks Aurelia Skipwith
3. Director of the Office of International Affairs Karen Senhadji

II. Record Delivery

I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if not. In the event that there are fees, please inform me of the total charges in advance of fulfilling my request.

Please produce the records on a rolling basis; at no point should the search for – or deliberation concerning – certain records delay the production of others that the agency has already retrieved and elected to produce.

Should you decide to invoke a FOIA exemption with regard to any of the requested records, please include in your response letter sufficient information for an appeal, including:

1. Basic factual material about each withheld item, including the originator, date, length, general subject matter, and location of each item.
2. Explanations and justifications for denial, including the identification of the category within the governing statutory provision under which the document (or portion thereof) was withheld and a full explanation of how each exemption fits the withheld material.

If you determine that portions of a requested record are exempt from disclosure, please redact the exempt portions and provide the remainder of the record.

III. Request for a Fee Waiver

I respectfully request that you waive all fees in connection with this request as provided by 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(4)(A)(iii). The Sierra Club is a national environmental nonprofit with no commercial interest in obtaining the requested information. Our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can be better informed about the U.S. government's international conservation efforts.

The subject matter of the requested records is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations and activities of the government by disclosing how African elephant trophy import bans came to be lifted for several countries. This issue has received widespread attention, including from the president himself. Many international conservationists have questioned what changed to justify the expansion of imports.

The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in the subject area, as the organization has a well-established program to protect wild lands and wildlife. Our staff and volunteers regularly interact with the department regarding endangered species, and tens of thousands of our supporters have written letters and submitted public comments on international endangered species protections, including African elephants.

IV. Media Requester Status

In addition to the public interest fee waiver, I ask to be properly categorized as a representative of the news media. The bulk of my professional duties at the Sierra Club entails planning and writing content about public policy, including composing mass communications to our followers, analyzing FOIA responses, and coordinating press outreach. Here are some examples that resulted from my work:

The Sierra Club has the ability and intention to disseminate the information it receives through this request. The information may be shared through emails to an audience reaching into the millions, Facebook and Twitter posts reaching tens of thousands of followers, articles on our frequently-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your response to this request within 20 business days, as the statute requires.


Alexander Rony
Sierra Club


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