Wayne Tracker Emails (Department of the Interior)

Alexander Rony filed this request with the Department of the Interior of the United States of America.
Est. Completion None
Status
Awaiting Response

Communications

From: Alexander Rony

To Whom It May Concern:

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

Any emails to, from, or mentioning Wayne Tracker (Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com) from September 15, 2015 to January 1, 2017.

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,

Alexander Rony

From: OS, OS FOIA

Hello Mr. Rony,

OS FOIA needs clarification regarding your request.
Please contact our office as soon as possible at 202-513-0765.

Thank you
Karmen
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

Hello Karmen,

In response to your question over the phone, here are some current and former Interior employees with whom I would like to check for correspondence with or discussion of the Wayne Tracker email address:

Sally Jewell; Michael L. Connor; Kris Sarri; Lori Faeth; Paul Mussenden; Willie Taylor; Karen Senhadji; Steve Glomb; Joel Clement; Elena Gonzalez; Matt Costello; Janet Goodwin; Harry Humbert; Tim Lynn; James Gallagher; Steve Hargrave; John T. Keating; Glenn Smith; Paul Mussenden; Greg Gould; Janice Schneider; Michael D. Nedd; Scott Mabry; Doug Morris; David Fish; David M. Moore; Walter Cruickshank; Connie Gillette; Deanna Meyer-Pietruszka; and Renee Orr.

Please let me know if this is sufficient for your purposes. I am hoping to keep this request to less than $50.

From: OS, OS FOIA

Dear Mr. Rony,

Please find attached the acknowledgement letter for FOIA OS-2017-00359.

Thank you,
Karmen
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

Dear Karmen,

This is in reference to FOIA control number OS-2017-00359. I would like to reduce the scope of my request to fall below $50 and, thus, below the threshold at which the Department of Interior collects fees. Please limit the list of employees to the following:

Michael L. Connor; Willie Taylor; Janice Schneider; Michael D. Nedd; Margaret N. Schneider; Doug Morris; David Fish; David M. Moore; Walter Cruickshank; Deanna Meyer-Pietruszka; and Renee Orr.

If any of these individuals do not correspond with external stakeholders, please flag them for me and I will remove them from the list. You may remove any e-newsletters from the duplication.

Is it possible to get the fee estimate broken down by search time, review time, and duplication cost?

From: OS, OS FOIA

Mr. Rony,

Thank you.

Please know that our fee estimate 20-day letter dated March 27, 2017, must
remain in effect. The estimate is reflective of 30 minutes search time for
each name searched. The fee estimate provided in the aforementioned letter
represents search time only.

You are welcomed to further reduce the scope of your request to 1 or 2
specific names in an effort to get closer to $50 as much as possible.

We will keep the 20-day letter open until you agree to pay the cost
estimate provided in above-referenced letter or the 20-workday time period
expires. In accordance with *43 C.F.R. § 2.5(d)*, the requester must
provide a written response to our request for clarification within 20
workdays or we must close the file.

Thank you,

Karmen

--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

This is in response to FOIA OS-2017-00359.

Forgive me, but this fee estimate does not make sense. You stated that the estimate of at least $550-600 from March 27 is still in effect, even though I reduced the number of staff members from 30 to 11 and you claim that the estimate is based on each name searched. Accordingly, I would have expected a 63.3% reduction in the fee estimate.

I am also surprised of the 30 minute timeframe for each name being searched. Since I am only seeking emails, this should take considerably less time. I just searched through my own email archives, which take place over a greater time frame, and it took less than 3 seconds to come up with results.

The Department of Interior's FOIA regulations (43 CRF 2.2.37) state that "[t]he bureau should ensure that it conducts searches, review, and duplication in the most efficient and the least expensive manner so as to minimize costs for both you and the bureau." What is the justification for such a high amount of time spent searching each email address for one keyword/contact?

I request that I be properly classified as a news media requester. My work here at Sierra Club includes both editorializing and distributing information on issues of public interest to large audiences through a 500,000+ email list, press releases, blog posts, and other outlets.

Here are a few examples:
* http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2016/10/members-distance-themselves-alecs-climate-policies
* http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4480/over-700000-people-tell-government-to-block-seed-mergers#
* http://environmentamerica.org/news/ame/119662-americans-give-rusty-patched-bumble-bee-endangered-status

This request relates to an email address that has made news: https://www.salon.com/2017/03/14/as-exxonmobil-ceo-rex-tillerson-used-an-email-alias-for-discussing-climate-change/

I have covered areas related to this request and plan to use my editorial skills to analyze and produce original reporting on responsive documents to my audience.

From: OS, OS FOIA

Mr. Rony, thank you.

The original estimate was based on the information you provided at that
time in your March 22, 2017 request. The scope of your request listing the
staff members was narrowed from actually 29 (Paul Mussenden’s name was
listed twice) to 11.

In addition, your request specified a date range of September 15, 2015 to
January 1, 2017; approximately 15-16 months. Please understand the search
efforts will be significantly extensive at a minimum of at least 30 minutes
each (per name).

As an “other use” requester, the category affords you the 2 hours of free
search time and reduces your fee to under approximately $151.00. We are
not charging you for professional review time which would have
significantly increased the original and this revised fee estimate. Again,
I must advise that the 20-day clock is still effective.

Thank you

-Karmen
--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

This is in response to FOIA OS-2017-00359.

Thank you very much for your quick response, Karmen. I appreciate it.

I am still attempting to understand the 30 minute per name estimate, which strikes me as excessive. Every modern email client has search functionality that quickly filters an email account for relevant content. If your staff emails are stored in a database, then an administrator will be able to search all of them at once in an even-faster process. Why would it take at least 30 minutes per name to search for emails mentioning a single external address? Is it that I am requesting all emails "mentioning" Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com? Searching for these emails would take significantly less time for me or my work, even without IT help.

You mention that my current other use category reduces my estimated fee "to under approximately $151.00." Is that a more accurate figure than the initial fee estimate of $550-600, and does that $151 figure consider my reduced list of just 11 staff members?

What was the reasoning behind the determination that I am an other use requester instead of a media use requester?

In the event that I am not declared a media use requester, I want to request a Public Interest Fee Waiver. I believe I meet the requirements, namely:

1. The subject of the request is in the public interest, as evidenced by the large number of news articles about the Wayne Tracker email address;
2. The information to be disclosed is of informative value, as it demonstrates the operations of a prominent corporation currently under investigation;
3. The disclosure is likely to contribute to an understanding of the subject by the general public, given that ExxonMobil claims to have lost some emails from the Wayne Tracker account, and this request may fill some of those gaps;
4. The contribution to public understanding is significant, since this information may not be released without this disclosure;
5. Disclosure of the information is not primarily in the commercial interest of the requester, as I work for a nonprofit and am planning to release the information free of charge;
6. And the requester has the ability to disseminate the information, since I have access to a large (500,000+) email list, multiple social media accounts with thousands of followers, publishing tools on a major website, and press releases and contacts from a national organization.

Please let me know if I qualify for the Public Interest Fee Waiver and, if not, what reasoning the Interior Department used to make that determination.

Thank you very much,
Alexander

From: OS, OS FOIA

Dear Mr. Rony,

The Department of the Interior is decentralized in its ability to search
for potentially responsive records, therefore it is necessary for each
component likely to hold records to conduct a search. As your request is
currently worded, the Office of the Deputy Secretary, Office of
Environmental Policy and Compliance, Office of the Assistant Secretary for
Land Management, as well as the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Ocean
Energy Management, and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement will
need to conduct searches. As such, the estimate of 30 minutes per name
reflects the likely time it will take for these components to search for
electronic correspondence.

The current estimate of fulfilling your request at approximately $151.00 is
based on the above components conducting searches for your narrowed list of
eleven individuals.

This office's determination that your status as an other use requester is
due to your not providing enough information to justify your placement as a
representative of the news media.
Additionally, if you are requesting a fee waiver, please be sure to do
formally and provide your reasons so that we can make our determination.
Thanks,

Nick

--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

From: Alexander Rony

I would like to structure my request in a way that makes it easy for your department to fulfill, but I have had other, more complicated FOIA requests spanning larger time periods completed with a fraction of the search time. To reduce the per-name search time, I don't need multiple offices to search through each staffer's emails, just the individuals who worked for them. So:

Office of the Deputy Secretary: Michael L. Connor
Office of Environmental Policy and Compliance: Willie Taylor
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Land Management: Janice Schneider
Bureau of Land Management: Michael D. Nedd
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: Margaret N. Schneider; Doug Morris; David Fish; David M. Moore
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: Walter Cruickshank; Deanna Meyer-Pietruszka; Renee Orr

This should eliminate any unnecessary duplicate searches across agencies. If this is still too time-consuming, I can file separate FOIAs with the individual bureaus for their respective staff.

I will separately email my formal request for a fee waiver.

From: Alexander Rony

To whom it may concern,

I request a Public Interest Fee Waiver. My request for email correspondence with the Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com email address is clearly in the public interest, and my organization and I have the means to digest and disseminate information gained through it.

I intend to publicize the ways in which Rex Tillerson (formerly the CEO of ExxonMobil and currently the Secretary of State) used a pseudonymous email account to deal with issues pertaining to his industry and climate change, and further demonstrate that these emails should have been initially turned over to active investigations that have been launched by several state attorneys general. ExxonMobil has claimed to have lost some of the Wayne Tillerson emails, and the disclosure of any communications with Rex Tillerson or Wayne Tracker would flag the issue for these government investigators as well as other agencies which may maintain similar communications.

Department of Interior correspondence with Rex Tillerson and the Wayne Tracker account would further highlight government operations at an agency that manages much of the nation's fossil fuel resources; specifically, how the government works with private companies to develop its energy, communicate agency research and decisions, and ensure security at drilling operations -- and how corporate executives can gain additional access to and cooperation from public officials.

The fact that Rex Tillerson used this Wayne Tracker account has garnered a vast amount of media coverage already; these emails would clearly be of interest to journalists, ethics watchdogs, and the public.

The Sierra Club is a nonprofit that covers information regarding nature, energy, and public health. It has staff experts on topics pertaining to oil extraction and climate change. Part of my job is to share news with an email audience of more than 500,000 people; a Facebook audience of almost 30,000; and a Twitter following of more than 7,000 -- in addition to assisting on press releases and articles for our website. Here are two examples of my work:

http://www.sierraclub.org/compass/2016/10/members-distance-themselves-alecs-climate-policies
http://www.centerforfoodsafety.org/press-releases/4480/over-700000-people-tell-government-to-block-seed-mergers

This meets the two main criteria for fee waivers put forth by the Department of Interior's guidance:

1. It is in the public interest because it is likely to contribute significantly to public understanding of the operations or activities of the government.
2. It is not primarily in my commercial interest.

Please let me know if I qualify for the Public Interest Fee Waiver and, if not, what reasoning the Interior Department used to make that determination.

Thank you very much,
Alexander

From: OS, OS FOIA

Dear Mr. Rony,

Would you mind giving our office a call to discuss further? Thanks!
Thanks,
Cindy

--
Department of the Interior
Office of the Secretary, FOIA Office
1849 C Street, NW, MS-7328
Washington, D.C. 20240
os_foia@ios.doi.gov
(202) 513-0765 - phone
(202) 219-2374 - fax

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