Presidential Committee on Climate Security

Jamie Corey filed this request with the Council on Environmental Quality of the United States of America.
Tracking #

FY2019-042, FY2019-066

FY2019-042

Status
Completed

Communications

From: Jamie Corey

March 26, 2019

Dear CEQ FOIA Officer:

On behalf of Documented, an investigative research and reporting group that informs the public of the relationship between industry and government, I make this request for agency records pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (“FOIA”), 5 U.S.C. § 552, et seq.

I request the following records that were created or obtained by CEQ between January 1, 2019 and the date you conduct a search for responsive records:

• All agency records regarding the Presidential Committee on Climate Security (PCCS), including but not limited to, agency records regarding the Deputies Committee Meeting on the Presidential Committee on Climate Security which took place on February 22, 2018 including but not limited to meeting minutes, correspondence and memos prepared in preparation for this meeting, and contemporaneous notes. Relevant materials posted by the National Geographic Society are provided here for reference https://www.slideshare.net/Revkin/the-plan-for-a-trump-committee-on-climate-and-security, and need not be included in the production.

• All communications between Mary Neumayr, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality and William Happer, Patrick Moore, or any other member or representative of the CO2 Coalition. To assist with your search for responsive records, one email address used by William Happer is Happer@princeton.edu.

Responsive Records
FOIA provides a presumption of disclosure, and limitations and exemptions to FOIA are to be narrowly construed. The records, documents and correspondence requested above includes any and all records, as that term is defined under FOIA (5 U.S.C. § 552(f)(2)), and applicable case law. “Records” or “agency records” for the purposes of this request should include all electronic forms of communications and documents, including but not limited to writings (handwritten, typed, electronic or otherwise produced, reproduced or stored), letters, memoranda, correspondence, notes, reports, reviews, guidance documents, diaries, telephone conversations, telefaxes, emails, voicemails, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, minutes of meetings, electronic and magnetic recordings of meetings, and any other compilation of data from which information can be obtained. Communications include records exchanged between persons above regardless of format.

Fee Waiver Request
I am requesting a waiver of fees incurred by the agency in responding to my request. Fee waivers are to be liberally construed in favor of non-commercial requestors, McClellan Ecological Seepage Situation v. Carlucci, 835 F.2d 1282, 1284 (9th Cir. 1987). I am a non-commercial requestor, working for a public interest research group, seeking information concerning the activities of the government for the purpose of disclosing information to the public.

The subject matter of this request concerns activities of the government because it regards climate change policy and agency action related to climate change, an issue of utmost import and interest to the public. I will disclose findings from this FOIA request, and disclosure is likely to contribute significantly to the public’s understanding of government policy on climate change as well as add to understanding of the purpose and operation of the Presidential Committee on Climate Security. Such an understanding at this juncture may only be obtained by disclosure.

Past investigative work of Documented has successfully contributed to the public’s understanding of government activities. Documented has effectively conveyed information regarding industry connections to government through its website, thousands of social media subscribers, and by writing news articles in the Intercept, Slate Magazine, and Huffington Post, and by contributing to stories in other news outlets such as the Washington Post, Vox, and The Guardian.

Neither Documented nor I have a commercial interest in the material requested, and as in all of our public records requests, Documented seeks records for the purpose of disclosure to a broad public audience in order to enhance public understanding of government operations and to serve the public interest. Our primary function is to inform the public and disseminate information. For expediency, should you deny this fee waiver request, I authorize charges up to $200 in advance. I would prefer the request be filled electronically, by e-mail attachment if available or CD-ROM if email is not possible.

Expedited Processing
I also ask expedited processing of this request. Federal agencies are required to provide expedited processing of FOIA request when a requestor demonstrates a “compelling need” for the information requested. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6)(E)(i)-(ii). Here, there is an urgency to inform the public regarding a potentially powerful advisory committee to the President, before it is formed. This information would provide an opportunity for public input regarding the committee that would otherwise not be available, and such input will be of diminished utility after a decision is made regarding the committee. This information is not of mere historical interest, but fulfills a compelling need of providing public understanding of imminent federal government action.

Through my role at Documented, I am primarily engaged in disseminating information and have the means and intention to process and disseminate findings produced through this FOIA request. As discussed above, investigative findings produced by Documented are quickly made available to the public through social media platforms, through our website, and by providing the results of its investigations to other news outlets.

In the event that access to any of the requested records is denied, please provide all non-exempt portions of the record which are “reasonably segregable” from exempted material. 5 U.S.C. § 552(b). Please also separately state reasons for exempting records. The deadline for an agency determination is 20 business days from the date receipt of this request, or 10 days from the date of receipt should you grant expedited processing. 5 U.S.C. § 552(a)(6).

Thank you for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Jamie Corey
Senior Researcher, Documented
PO Box 258084
Madison, WI 53725
(c) 608-208-5851

From: Council on Environmental Quality

Dear Jamie Corey,

This is to acknowledge receipt of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that you have sent to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

The assigned case number and a summary of your request is below:

1) FY2019-066 – records regarding a Presidential Committee on Climate Security; communications between Mary Neumayr and the CO2 Coalition

The timeframe for your request is January 1, 2019 to the date CEQ conducts the search.

I am interpreting your request to include a request for special requester status, as a media requester, for fee determinations. In order to verify your identity and evaluate this request, please provide a signed copy of this request on your organizational letterhead. For your convenience, you may simply email this to me in a PDF file.

You have requested a fee waiver. Adjudication for the fee waiver will occur if/when fees become applicable.

This FOIA request is considered a complex request that involves interagency coordination to conduct the search for records sought.

Howard Sun, CEQ’s FOIA Public Liaison, is on military leave until April 8, 2019, but during his absence you may contact me with questions regarding your case. You may also contact the Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) for assistance with FOIA. OGIS may be reached at:

Office of Government Information Services
National Archives and Records Administration
Room 2510
8601 Adelphi Road
College Park, MD 20740-6001
Email: ogis@nara.gov<mailto:ogis@nara.gov>
Phone: 301-837-1996
Fax: 301-837-0348
Toll-free: 1-877-684-6448

Very Respectfully,
Caroline Gignoux
Attorney Advisor
Council on Environmental Quality
Office: (202) 456-5147

From: Jamie Corey

Dear Mr. Sun,

I am following up to request a time estimate for the processing of my request, “FY2019-066 – records regarding a Presidential Committee on Climate Security; communications between Mary Neumayr and the CO2 Coalition.” Counsel for Documented spoke to another FOIA officer while you were away regarding the status of this request and the complex designation provided. Since the deadline for agency response has passed, I would appreciate an estimated date that your office expects to complete the processing of this request.

Also, please see a copy of the original request with organizational letterhead as previously requested to assist with processing of the fee waiver request. Please also let me know if you would like additional examples of Documented’s history of gathering and disseminating information in the public interest.

From: Council on Environmental Quality

Dear Mr. Corey,

This FOIA is FY2019-066, not FY2019-042.

We are waiting for supporting documentation from you that we requested on April 4, 2019. You have requested to be considered a media requester for fee determination purposes. Therefore, we had asked for a signed copy of this FOIA on Documented letterhead so we can adjudicate your request for media requester status. For your convenience, you can simply email it in PDF form.

Very Respectfully,
Howard Sun
Attorney Advisor
Council on Environmental Quality
Executive Office of the President
Office: (202) 456-3621

From: Jamie Corey

Please let me know if this suffices.

From: Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Corey,

Regarding the search for communications between Mary Neumayr and CO2 Coalition, we searched Will Happer and Patrick Moore but if there are additional names in the CO2 Coalition you would like us to search for, please let us know. CEQ is not obligated to conduct research (finding out who else is in the CO2 Coalition) in processing FOIA requests.

Very Respectfully,
Howard Sun
Attorney Advisor
Council on Environmental Quality
Executive Office of the President
Office: (202) 456-3621

From: Council on Environmental Quality

Mr. Corey,

You keep referring to this FOIA case as FY2019-042. This case is FY2019-066.

Your request for special status is approved. You are a media requester for fee determination purposes.

Very Respectfully,
Howard Sun
Attorney Advisor
Council on Environmental Quality
Executive Office of the President
Office: (202) 456-3621

From: Jamie Corey

Mr. Sun,

There are no additional individuals to include in the search. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Jamie Corey

From: Council on Environmental Quality

Ms. Corey,

Attached please find the final response letter to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request(s) that you sent to the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), case number(s) FY2019-066. I am the FOIA Public Liaison and you may contact me with questions regarding your case.

Very Respectfully,

Howard Sun

Attorney Advisor

Council on Environmental Quality

Executive Office of the President

Office: (202) 456-3621

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