FOIA Request

Matt Kasper filed this request with the U.S. Trade Representative of the United States of America.
Tracking #

FY18-68

Due March 6, 2018
Est. Completion March 6, 2018
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Matt Kasper

To Whom It May Concern:

This is a request under the Freedom of Information Act. I hereby request the following records:

1. Any and all internal and external electronic communication and attachments of Robert Lighthizer, Willis Martyn, Bradford Ward, Payne Griffin, Stephen Vaughn, Terrence McCartin, Christopher Jackson, Jamieson Greer, pertaining to the topic of safeguard tariffs on imported solar cells and modules that the USTR recommended to President Trump, excluding press clips. This request is limited to the timeframe of October 25, 2017 through the processing date of this request.

2. Any and all internal and external analysis, reports, research papers, memos reviewed and/or authored by representatives of the Office of Policy Coordination, representatives of the Trade Policy Staff Committee, regarding tariffs on imported solar cells and modules that was recommended to President Trump.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes. It is in the public's interest to know the USTR's role regarding their recommendations to President Trump.

On January 22, 2018, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that President Trump approved recommendations to impose tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The press release on the date of the announcement stated, "USTR made the recommendations to the President based on consultations with the interagency Trade Policy Committee (TPC) in response to findings by the independent, bipartisan U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) that increased foreign imports of washers and solar cells and modules are a substantial cause of serious injury to domestic manufacturers." Ambassador Lighthizer said, "Upon receiving these recommendations, my staff and I conducted an exhaustive process which included opportunities to brief in person and through public comments, public hearings, and meetings with senior representatives. Based on this information, the Trade Policy Committee developed recommendations, which the President has accepted."

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

However, I am requesting a fee waiver. The organization I work for, the Energy and Policy Institute, is a clearinghouse of information and can qualify as a representative of the news media. There are several examples of public record requests that have been provided to my organization and that were then published on our website to inform journalists publishing articles.

Additionally, previously FOIAs from the Energy and Policy Institute to federal government agencies have been categorized under Title 10, Code of Federal Regulations, Section 1004.9(b)(3) as a "news media" requester.

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.

Sincerely,

Matt Kasper
Energy and Policy Institute

From: U.S. Trade Representative

Mr. Kasper,

The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) received your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request dated February 1, 2018 and assigned it tracking number FY18-68. Please cite this number in any future communications with our office regarding your request.

We are unable to begin processing your request at this time because we cannot determine precisely which records you are seeking. If you are still interested, we will need you to provide us with more specific information to describe the records sought so that they can be located with a reasonable amount of effort (15 CFR 2004.3(b)), e.g., with whom were the named USTR employees communicating. Please include contact information, preferably email addresses. Your request is also overly broad. The Trade Policy Staff Committee, for example, has representatives from more than 20 agencies represented.

Given the breadth of the request as well as the individuals' positions, it is highly likely that the responsive documents are exempt from mandatory disclosure under FOIA. In particular, the documents are likely to be exempt under FOIA Exemption 5, as being covered by the deliberative process privilege. As a result, the process of USTR conducting a search for documents that are potentially responsive to this overly broad request, and conducting a review of the potentially responsive documents to determine which materials are responsive and exempt from mandatory disclosure (and, in the case of the exempt materials, conducting a further review to determine which materials are appropriate for discretionary release), and coordinating and consulting with other affected offices (outside of USTR) that have a potential interest in such documents, will likely be very time-consuming and overly burdensome.

Accordingly, unless you are able to narrow this request to external communications and analysis and provide names and contact information for external stakeholders, we will administratively close this request within 30 calendar days from the date of this email (15 CFR 2004.3(d)). We cannot proceed further with your request until we receive additional written clarification from you.

If you have any questions or would like help refining your search, please contact me or my colleague Melissa Keppel at FOIA@ustr.eop.gov or 202-395-3419.

Thank you,
Monique

Monique T. Ricker
FOIA Program Manager/Attorney

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
WASHINGTON DC 20508

From: Matt Kasper

Hi Monique,
Thanks for the email. I'm happy to narrow my request. How's this?

1. Any final reports authored by representatives of USTR that specifically pertain to employment impacts as a result of implementing tariffs on imported solar cells and modules, which the USTR recommended to President Trump.

Best,
Matt

From: U.S. Trade Representative

Hi Matt,

Thank you for narrowing your request. We will focus our search on the impact of tariffs imposed on imported solar cells and modules on employment. In addition to searching the records of Robert Lighthizer, Willis Martyn, Bradford Ward, Payne Griffin, Stephen Vaughn, Terrence McCartin, Christopher Jackson, and Jamieson Greer, we will include Ed Gresser who is the Assistant US Trade Representative who manages the Trade Policy Staff Committee interagency process.

Unless we hear otherwise, we will initiate your search today and provide you with a determination on or before March 6, 2018.

Thank you,
Monique

Monique T. Ricker
FOIA Program Manager/Attorney

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT
OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE
WASHINGTON DC 20508

From: Matt Kasper

Great, thank you for the help.

Files

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