MuckRock emails (Department of Energy)

Emma Best filed this request with the Department of Energy of the United States of America.
Tracking #

HQ-2018-01148-F

Multi Request MuckRock emails
Due June 21, 2018
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Emma Best


To Whom It May Concern:

Pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act, I hereby request the following records:

Copies of all emails containing the terms "MuckRock", "Muck Rock" or "MuckRock.com", excluding emails sent to or from a MuckRock.com email address. Please include the complete email exchange for each email, including any emails that are being replied to as well as any subsequent replies.

I am a member of the news media and request classification as such. I have previously written about the government and its activities. I have a reasonable expectation of publication and my editorial and writing skills are well established. I discuss and comment on the files online and make them available through non-profits such as the Internet Archive and MuckRock, disseminating them to a large audience. While my research is not limited to this, a great deal of it, including this, focuses on the activities and attitudes of the government itself. As such, it is not necessary for me to demonstrate the relevance of this particular subject in advance.

Additionally, case law states that “proof of the ability to disseminate the released information to a broad cross- section of the public is not required.” Judicial Watch, Inc. v. Dep’t of Justice, 365 F.3d 1108, 1126 (D.C. Cir. 2004); see Carney v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, 19 F.3d 807, 814-15 (2d Cir. 1994). Further, courts have held that "qualified because it also had “firm” plans to “publish a number of . . . ‘document sets’” concerning United States foreign and national security policy." Under this criteria, as well, I qualify as a member of the news media.

Additionally, courts have held that the news media status "focuses on the nature of the requester, not its request. The provision requires that the request be “made by” a representative of the news media. Id. § 552(a)(4)(A)(ii)(II). A newspaper reporter, for example, is a representative of the news media regardless of how much interest there is in the story for which he or she is requesting information." As such, the details of the request itself are moot for the purposes of determining the appropriate fee category. As my primary purpose is to inform about government activities by reporting on it and making the raw data available, I request that fees be waived.

The requested documents will be made available to the general public, and this request is not being made for commercial purposes.

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.

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,

Emma Best

From: Department of Energy

Good Afternoon Ms. Best,

Please find attached the acknowledgement letter for the above referenced FOIA request. In order to move forward with your request, I need some additional information about your request. Please give me a call at 202-287-6745 to discuss.
Best Wishes,
Melissa Darr, Esq.
FOIA Analyst
Central Research, Inc. Contractor
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20585
(202)287-6745

From: Emma Best

Apologies, I only communicate about FOIA requests in writing.

Emma

From: Department of Energy

Good Morning Emma,

In order to move forward with your request I need a date range and what custodians or program offices you would like us to search. Additionally, your request does not include an agreement to pay fees. DOE requires either an agreement to pay fees or a valid request for a fee waiver in order to process a FOIA request. DOE begins assessing fees at $15.00. If you approve fees up to $15.00, I can notify you if fees are expected to exceed $15.00.

Once I have the above information, I should be able to move forward with your request.

Also, I wanted to see if you would be willing to waive subscription news emails and publicly available information that happens to contain the search terms? This may help speed up the processing of your request. Please let me know if you have any questions or how you would like to proceed with this request.
Best Wishes,
Melissa

From: Emma Best

"In order to move forward with your request I need a date range and what custodians or program offices you would like us to search."

All dates, all custodians, all offices. Courts have found this to be a reasonable request in the past.

"Additionally, your request does not include an agreement to pay fees. DOE requires either an agreement to pay fees or a valid request for a fee waiver in order to process a FOIA request. "

1. This demand is inconsistent with FOIA, especially as you are not entitled to charge search fees, only duplication fees. Once a page count is provided, I will commit to duplication costs. However, as you will almost certainly not be completing this within the statutory time limit and I am news media, you will not be permitted to charge me duplication fees if the request is less than 5,000 pages of responsive documents. The full page count will almost certainly not exceed 5,000 pages.

2. If you had read my request more carefully, you would see that it does include a request for a fee waiver.

Please proceed with the request ASAP.

Thanks!!

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