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Re: E-M:/ Lax Environmental Enforcement - Show us the data - reply

Enviro-Mich message from James Clift <jamesmec@voyager.net>

Mr. Davis,

I appreciate your advice on the workings of the Freedom of Information Act.  It was
my belief that information I requested would exist in document form since it was my
understanding that is was information that the MDEQ is required to submit to the
Environmental Protection Agency, and that information was the basis of the EWG

In addition, since Michigan participated through the Environmental Council of States
(ECOS) in the preparation of a report critical of EWG report alleging that EWG had
misled the public about environmental enforcement, I thought  it may have produced
the documentation that I requested on its own.

I note the title of the ECOS report changed from "Fraudulent Case: How the
Environmental Working Group Misled the Public about Environmental Enforcement" to
"Lack of Evidence: How the Environmental Working Group Misled the Public about
Environmental Enforcement".  The change of title made me wonder; do we just need to
dig a little deeper?

As I stated in my release, in exchange for a few hundred dollars the department said
it was willing to make "some" of the information I requested available. Given the
allegations of fraudulent behavior and misleading the public, I thought the MDEQ had
a duty to come forward with all data they had available.  I think the data should be
made available at no cost under the provision of FOIA that allows a waiver of fees
if the information "can be considered primarily benefiting the general public".

That is the job of the MDEQ isn't it?  Enforce environmental law to protect public
health and the environment.

James Clift, Policy Director
Michigan Environmental Council
119 Pere Marquette, Ste 2A
Lansing, MI 48912
(517) 487-9539

"George B. Davis" wrote:

> In fairness to MDEQ, my initial reaction to the "FOIA" letter below is that
> it is not a proper FOIA request in that it requests data and the response to
> specific inquiries, rather than public "documents."  If the State has
> existing documents that provide the data requested, and they are public
> documents within the meaning of the law, then they must be provided.  But
> FOIA does not require the State to create new documents, even if it would be
> possible to do so, in responding to a FOIA request.  This is a fairly basic
> concept.  I am somewhat surprised that MEC did not follow FOIA guidelines in
> submitting its request.  And given that failure, I can't say I am surprised
> at the State's response or lack thereof.
> George B. Davis
> Hayes Davis & Dellenbusch PLC

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