Faith Burns's external emails

Alexander Rony filed this request with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service of the United States of America .
Tracking #

2021-FPAC-BC-01483-F

Status
Rejected

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

I. Description of Records Sought

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for Faith Burns's emails that were sent to or from email addresses with the domains .com or .org. Please include any attachments. Please search from January 22, 2019 to the date this request is processed. Ms. Burns works as Advisor to the Chief.

II. 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. Instead, our organization intends to analyze and disseminate the requested information free of charge so that the public can be better informed and meaningfully participate in protecting the nation's natural resources and public health.

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 with whom a high-level government official was communicating, and about which government laws and regulations. Ms. Burns's role as advisor has a broad scope and likely covers the issues she used to lobby on for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association: clean water, clean air, wetlands, and concentrated animal feeding operations ("CAFOs").

The Sierra Club and its supporters have demonstrated interest and expertise in each of these topics. We have many established campaigns that work on air, water, and wetland. In addition to our staff's formal recommendations, our supporters have filed millions of public comments to federal agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, related to these topics. The Sierra Club has a national team dedicated to food and agriculture, and many of its local chapters work on the issue.

III. 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:

1. https://sierraclub.org/planet/2017/04/hiring-freeze-prevented-epa-filling-hundreds-jobs
2. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2017/05/19/nearly-700-vacancies-at-cdc-because-of-trump-administration-hiring-freeze/
3. https://www.propublica.org/article/these-emails-show-a-trump-official-helping-her-former-chemical-industry-colleagues

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 often-visited website, and analysis provided to the media.

IV. Exempt Records

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.

V. 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.

Thank you in advance for your anticipated cooperation in this matter. I look forward to receiving your timely response.

Sincerely,
Alexander Rony
Sierra Club

From: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Good morning –

You’ll have to accept our apologies. I have no record that we acknowledged this request. I will get it into the system today and you should receive an acknowledgement letter shortly after. We will process accordingly.

Thank you.

Patrick McLoughlin
FOIA Officer
Intergovernmental and Private Partnerships
Legislative and Stakeholder Engagement Branch
External Affairs Division
Farm Production and Conservation Business Center
************************************
Office/Cell: (202) 590-6168
Patrick.mcloughlin@usda.gov<mailto:Patrick.mcloughlin@usda.gov>

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From: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

December 29, 2020 Delivered via email Alexander Rony Sierra Club - Muckrock News DEPT MR 38340 Somerville, Massachusetts  02144-2516 Dear Mr. Rony: This letter acknowledges receipt of your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated December 28, 2020, to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Production and Conservation - Business Center.  Your request was received in this office on December 29, 2020, and assigned control number 2021-FPAC-BC-01483-F. Please use this control number for all future communications regarding this request. You requested the following: This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for Faith Burns's emails that were sent to or from email addresses with the domains .com or .org. Please include any attachments. Please search from January 22, 2019 to the date this request is processed. Ms. Burns works as Advisor to the Chief. (Date Range for Record Search: From 1/22/2019 To 12/29/2020) Your request is being handled under the provisions of the FOIA, 5 U.S.C. § 552 ( http://www.usdoj.gov/oip/amended-foia-redlined.pdf ). We process requests on a first-in, first-out basis.  The actual processing time will depend upon the complexity of the request and whether or not it involves sensitive or voluminous records, or extensive searches and/or consultations.  We also process requests on a multi-track basis.  This means that simple requests, requiring minimal effort to respond, are processed in one track, and more voluminous and complex requests are processed in another track.  We have placed your request in the Simple track. We will be in contact with you as soon as possible regarding the cost estimate for this request, if applicable. If you have any questions regarding the processing of this request, please contact me at (202) 590-6168 or electronically at Patrick.mcloughlin@usda.gov. You can also contact the FOIA Public Liaison, for any further assistance or to discuss any aspect of your request at SM.FP.FOIA@usda.gov. (mailto:SM.FP.FOIA@usda.gov) I appreciate the opportunity to assist you in this matter. Sincerely, Patrick McLoughlin FOIA Officer

From: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

January 19, 2021 Delivered via email Alexander Rony Sierra Club - Muckrock News DEPT MR 38340 Somerville, Massachusetts 02144-2516 Dear Mr. Rony: This letter pertains to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated December 28, 2020, to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Production and Conservation - Business Center.  Your request was received in this office on December 29, 2020, and you requested the following: This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act for Faith Burns's emails that were sent to or from email addresses with the domains .com or .org. Please include any attachments. Please search from January 22, 2019 to the date this request is processed. Ms. Burns works as Advisor to the Chief. (Date Range for Record Search: From 1/22/2019 To 12/29/2020) The description of records you seek are too broad and additional details are needed . The email search yielded 8GB of emails. I can't even upload that into the system. You need to narrow the search parameters. Using .com or .org is way too broad. Can you please provide a narrower domain, like an actual domain name that emails using .com or .org would have come from (e.g. Faith.Burns @usda.gov)? This is what I'm using for Faith Burns but simply providing emails from or to . com or . org is way too broad. Please respond with your refined scope within 30 business days from the date of this letter by (March 1, 2021.  If I do not receive a response from you by this date, I will no longer process your request, and the case will be administratively closed. You may contact the FOIA Public Liaison at SM.FP.FOIA@usda.gov , for any further assistance on refining the scope of your request or to discuss any aspect of your request. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your request, please contact me at (202) 590-6168 or electronically at Patrick.mcloughlin@usda.gov. Sincerely, Patrick McLoughlin FOIA Officer

From: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources Conservation Service

Dear Mr. Rony: The attached letter is a final response to your FOIA request 2021-NRCS-01483-F. Please contact me if you have any questions or need additional assistance. Thank you, Patrick McLoughlin
FOIA Officer

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