FOIA Roundup: Buckwheat could block mining, abusive coaching, and the lobby for utility shutoffs

FOIA Roundup: Buckwheat could block mining, abusive coaching, and the lobby for utility shutoffs

This week’s update from FOIA and public records

Written by
Edited by Michael Morisy

Each week, we highlight some of the best stories brought into the world by the Freedom of Information Act. See some we missed? Please let us know!

Rare buckwheat may block lithium mining in Nevada

Materials released to the Center for Biological Diversity by the University of Nevada, Reno show that scientists there believe Thiem’s buckwheat, a rare desert wildflower, should be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The designation would thwart efforts by Ioneer Ltd. to mine lithium in the area. You can read more from the Associated Press.

Exit interviews reveal more details on Texas Tech’s abusive coaching

Exit interviews with players from the last two seasons have revealed more details of the toxic environment at the Texas Tech women’s basketball program, which caused more than half of the team to leave and led to the dismissal of head coach Marlene Stollings. You can read more from Jori Epstein and Daniel Libit in USA Today, which collaborated with The Intercollegiate for the story.

The federal government is responsible for Native students’ education. It’s failing.

For generations, the federal government has gotten away with providing a sub-par education to the children on reservations. It also isn’t giving up information on its efforts. The Bureau of Indian Education still hasn’t responded to a September 2019 public records request from the Arizona Republic and ProPublica for academic performance data from its schools, data available from public schools nationwide. Read more from Alden Woods at the Arizona Republic and ProPublica.

As states prepare to resume utility shutoffs, companies oppose a federal ban

Public records obtained by clean-energy advocacy group, the Energy and Policy Institute, reveal that American Electric Power, which voluntarily stopped disconnections in March was lobbying against a federal ban on shut-offs a month later. Read more from Dino Grandoni at The Washington Post.

California agency tasked with protecting workers is struggling to retain its own

Staffing at the California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has been in decline for years and the current crisis is making things worse. Garrett Brown, a retired employee and founder of Inside Cal/OSHA, publishes staffing charts he receives through public records requests on his website, which help to illustrate the issue. Read more from Jie Jenny Zou at the Los Angeles Times.

American Oversight sues for DOJ records related to Portland protestors

American Oversight is suing federal agencies for failing to produce documents related to the deployment of federal forces counter Black Lives Matter protests in several cities. Read more from Dell Cameron at Gizmodo.

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Image by Gary A. Monroe, hosted by the USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database