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Case TitleCLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER v. UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv00124
Date Filed2016-01-26
Date ClosedOpen
JudgeJudge Amit P. Mehta
PlaintiffCLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER
Case DescriptionClimate Investigations Center, an association of advocates, bloggers, and researchers, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Energy for communications between the National Energy Technology Laboratory and various other parties named in the request. The agency provided a handful of documents, but after receiving no substantive response to its request, the Climate Investigation Center filed an appeal. This led to further partial disclosures. The agency withheld some records under Exemption 4 (confidential business information), Exemption 5 (privileges), and Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy). The Climate Investigations Center finally filed suit.
Complaint issues: Failure to respond within statutory time limit, Litigation - Vaughn index, Litigation - Attorney's fees

DefendantUNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Amended complaint
Opinion/Order [21]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Amit Mehta has ruled that the Department of Energy has so far failed to substantiate any of its claims under Exemption 4 (confidential business information), Exemption 5 (privileges), or Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) in responding to a request by Dan Zegart, a senior investigator for the Climate Investigations Center, for records concerning a $300 million contract awarded by the agency to Southern Company for construction and implementation of a clean coal project in Mississippi known as the Kemper Project. Zegart sent his request to the National Energy Technology Laboratory, which was overseeing the project. Zegart clarified that he wanted several categories of documents �" (1) contacts or meetings between NETL and Southern Company or entities related to Southern Company about clean coal technology, (2) research and development of clean coal technology at an NETL research facility in Wilsonville, Alabama, (3) the decision to move the Kemper Project from Florida to Mississippi, and (4) any connections between the Kemper Project and a lobbying firm called the BGR Group. NETL contacted DOE Headquarters because it believed Headquarters had materials responsive to certain portions of Zegart's request. DOE Headquarters sent Zegart's request to the Office of Fossil Energy, whose staff conducted manual and electronic searches, collected all responsive documents, and submitted them to the Office of Information Resources for review. NETL also consulted Southern Company for confidentiality claims. NETL disclosed several thousand pages, many with redactions, while the Office of Fossil Energy released 75 records with redactions. Zegart challenged the adequacy of the agency's search, claiming that it failed to use certain search terms that would have provided more context to its search. But Mehta noted that "as a general matter, a plaintiff cannot dictate the search terms an agency must use to identify responsive records, and when an agency's search terms are 'reasonably calculated to lead to responsive documents, a court should neither "micromanage" nor second guess the agency's search.'" Mehta found the agency's affidavit sufficient, observing that "it reflects that Defendant selected search terms reasonably calculated to capture records responsive to Plaintiff's FOIA Request by searching for (1) the name of the power plant, (2) the name of the power plant in conjunction with its site relocation, (3) the name of the consulting group that purportedly met with government officials concerning the plant's relocation, and (4) the individual names of four members of the consulting group. In proffering that declaration, Defendant has met its burden; second-guessing what other terms the agency could have used would be inappropriate." However, Mehta indicated that the agency had not explained why it did not conduct a further search at DOE Headquarters. He observed that "[NETL's] declaration indicates that responsive materials involving the Office of the Secretary exist, which means additional responsive records could exist as well. Thus, after locating responsive records involving the Office of the Secretary, Defendant needed either to search that office or explain in a detailed affidavit or declaration why such a search would have been fruitless or redundant." Finding that neither party was eligible for summary judgment on the issue of the adequacy of the search, Mehta pointed out that the agency could either conduct a further search of the Office of the Secretary or explain why such a search would be redundant. The agency argued that it withheld records under Exemption 4 because disclosure would both impair its ability to get quality information in the future and would cause Southern Company competitive harm. The agency provided an affidavit from Southern Company indicating the company would be reluctant to share information with the agency if it knew the information might be disclosed. Mehta noted this was insufficient to show impairment. He observed that "in the context of mandatory disclosures, 'the "continued reliability" or "quality" of the information obtained by the government is assumed because companies required to submit information would risk losing their government benefit for failing to comply fully and completely.' Southern Company's statement does not rebut that presumption." He added that "it is not clear, however, whether Southern Company would have the freedom to minimize the quantity or quality of information it supplies to Defendant and still obtain federal funding for any initiative like the Kemper Project, given that disclosure of the very information at issue appears to be a condition of receiving federal funding." Mehta found Southern Company's claim that the information would be of value to potential competitors insufficient as well. He noted that "at no point does [Southern Company's affidavit] describe the market in which Southern Company faces competition or against whom Southern Company actually competes for the use of such technology." As a result, "while the proffered statements support the contention that Southern Company might have competitors or may make use of competitive bidding, they do not reflect actual competition under the case law." The agency claimed that a number of records were protected by the deliberative process privilege, while four other email exchanges fell under the attorney-client privilege. Mehta pointed out, however, that "Defendant cannot successfully claim the documents fall within the deliberative process privilege because Defendant has not shown that any withheld document actually predates an agency decision. In fact, not one entry in the DOE Headquarters Vaughn Index identifies any 'decision' to which the withheld material contributed." As to the four email exchanges the agency claimed fell under the attorney-client privilege, Mehta observed that "merely claiming that a communication is 'legal advice' is not enough for the court to assess whether the communication actually was a confidential communication and related to the matter for which the agency would seek advice about a legal matter." Mehta quoted from a recent district court decision by another judge in the D.C. Circuit observing that "the attorney-client privilege is not an all-purpose FOIA evasion mechanism," and indicated that "this court will not allow Defendant to treat it as one by rubberstamping the boilerplate language in the proffered declarations and DOE Headquarters Vaughn Index as sufficient." As a way to undercut DOE's claim that contact information of Southern Company's employees was protected by Exemption 6, Zegart argued that the information was already publicly available in the company's SEC filings. Mehta found that the public availability of the information from the SEC mooted the privacy claim altogether. He noted that "as the information that Plaintiff seeks �" the names of responsible Southern Company employees �" is publicly available in Southern Company's Securities and Exchange Commission filings, any dispute concerning Defendant's reliance on Exemption 6 to withhold that same material is moot." He added that "although Mr. Zegart made this statement to suggest that Defendant's redactions are 'arbitrary' and unsupported by Exemption 6, his statement has the effect of mooting the dispute because it makes clear Plaintiff already has access to the same information that it requests from Defendant."
Issues: Exemption 4 - Competitive harm, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Predecisional, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Attorney-client privilege, Exemption 4 - Impairment of agency, Search - Detailed description of search, Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy
Opinion/Order [32]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Amit Mehta has ruled that the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory properly withheld records from the Climate Investigations Center pertaining to its funding and development of a clean-coal technology plant in Mississippi known as the Kemper Project under Exemption 4 (confidential business information) and that some but not all of its Exemption 5 (privileges) appropriate. In an earlier opinion, Mehta found that the agency had not provided sufficient support for its Exemption 4 and Exemption 5 claims and told the agency to either disclose the records or to supplement its affidavits. He also found that the agency's claim that Exemption 6 (invasion of privacy) protected personally identifying information of senior officials from the Southern Company was moot because the information was publicly available in the company's SEC filing. Mehta first rejected the Center's challenge to the agency's search, finding that the agency had shown that its searches were adequate. Turning to Exemption 4, Mehta found that the agency's supplemental affidavits provided ample support for him to conclude that disclosure would not only impair the government's ability to get quality data but would also cause substantial competitive harm. He pointed out that "defendant, through [its] Supplemental Declaration, has set forth why disclosing Southern Company's information, in this instance, would threaten Defendant's ongoing ability to gather information from companies seeking federal funding. As [the affidavit] explains, these applicants may stop applying for federal funding altogether or scale back the information they voluntarily include in their applications �" information that goes above and beyond that required but is nevertheless useful to NETL when evaluating proposals." Mehta agreed that by providing an affidavit from Southern Company the agency had also shown the existence of substantial competitive harm. The Center tried to undercut the affidavit's credibility by arguing that Southern Company was an interested party. Mehta pointed out that "frequently in Exemption 4 cases the declarant is an official of the private enterprise whose information is at stake. . .[S]uch officials are often in the best position to explain the competitive harm that would arise from disclosure. Exemption 4 does not demand testimony from an uninterested observer to justify the withholding." Both NETL and DOE had claimed that the attorney-client privilege applied to a series of communications. Rejecting the NETL claims, Mehta noted that "the privilege does not apply to communications involving agency personnel, the agency's attorneys, and a third party �" Southern Company's counsel." By contrast, he accepted DOE's attorney-client privilege claims because they had not been shared with a third party. Mehta rejected NETL's deliberative process privilege claims as well, pointing out that its assertion of privilege was primarily focused on when a record was created. He noted that "Defendant's organization of records centered on the timing of the production, not on any identifiable criteria that would situate a defined group of records within the overall decision-making process. This approach does not give the court the information it needs to evaluate the privilege claim." He added that since the deliberative process privilege protected "inter- or intra-agency" communications, records shared with Southern Company were not eligible for the privilege. He also rejected the agency's claim that Exemption 6 protected any identifiable third-party information. Instead, he observed that "Defendant has not, for example, shown why 'key officials' for Southern Company, a publicly-traded energy corporation, have the same or similar 'substantial' privacy interest as, say, lower-level Southern Company employees and Kemper Project subcontractors. A categorical approach can be appropriate. But Defendant must explain the privacy interests at stake as to each appropriately categorized group of individuals whose names and identifying information it has withheld."
Issues: Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Attorney-client privilege, Exemption 4 - Competitive harm, Exemption 4 - Impairment of agency, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Predecisional
Opinion/Order [45]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Amit Mehta has ruled that the Department of Energy properly withheld seven documents under Exemption 5 (privileges), although it failed to provide a segregability analysis, but it has not yet shown that it conducted an adequate search in response to a FOIA request from the Climate Investigations Center for records about a clean-coal technology powerplant in Mississippi known as the Kemper Project. Mehta found that the seven remaining documents qualified for protection under the deliberative process privilege. Agreeing with the agency's explanation of why the privilege applied, Mehta pointed out that "similar descriptions are provided as to the other documents at issue. These explanations sufficiently establish that the material in question 'was generated before the adoption of an agency policy' and 'reflects the give-and-take of the consultative process.'" But he noted that any segregability review was lacking. He pointed out that "here, neither [the agency's declarant] nor any other DOE representative has made an affirmation about segregability review. As this court has previously held, for an agency to meet its segregability burden of proof, it must provide not only a detailed Vaughn index, but also an affidavit affirming that the agency performed a 'line-by-line segregability review.'" Mehta found that Climate Investigations Center had provided new evidence that further responsive records existed in the Office of the Secretary. Ordering another search, he observed that "plaintiff has offered records indicating a significant number of communications with the Office of the Secretary that are independent of the Office of Fossil Energy and NETL during the tenure of two different Energy Secretaries. And while DOE's search has already turned up numerous communications showing the involvement of the Office of the Secretary, the previous searches would not have captured internal communications within the Office, such as documents reflecting 'meetings between staff within the Office of the Secretary, records of phone calls, or other internal contacts within the Office of the Secretary. Plaintiff has thus identified the sort of 'clear lead' showing the search was inadequate and therefore the court finds it appropriate to order a search of the Office of Secretary."
Issues: Exemption 5 - Privileges - Attorney work-product privilege, Exemption 6 - Invasion of privacy, Adequacy - Search
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-01-261COMPLAINT Climate Investigations Center against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4389249) filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons Summons 1, # 3 Summons Summons 2, # 4 Summons Summons 3)(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 01/26/2016)
2016-01-26Case Assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta. (sth) (Entered: 01/27/2016)
2016-01-272SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Summons, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons)(sth) (Entered: 01/27/2016)
2016-01-293AMENDED COMPLAINT against UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER.(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 01/29/2016)
2016-02-194NOTICE of Appearance by Britney Berry on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Berry, Britney) (Entered: 02/19/2016)
2016-03-085Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to Plaintiff's Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Berry, Britney) (Entered: 03/08/2016)
2016-03-08MINUTE ORDER granting 5 Consent Motion for Extension of Time. Defendant shall file its answer or other response to 3 Plaintiff's Amended Complaint on or before April 8, 2016. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 03/08/2016. (lcapm3) (Entered: 03/08/2016)
2016-04-086Defendant's ANSWER to 3 Amended Complaint by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. Related document: 3 Amended Complaint filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit A, # 2 Exhibit B, # 3 Exhibit C, # 4 Exhibit D, # 5 Exhibit E, # 6 Exhibit F, # 7 Exhibit G)(Berry, Britney) (Entered: 04/08/2016)
2016-04-087NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Johnny Hillary Walker, III on behalf of UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY Substituting for attorney Britney Berry (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 04/08/2016)
2016-04-088ORDER: Both a Complaint and an Answer are now before the court in this FOIA case. It is hereby ordered that the parties shall meet and confer and file a Joint Status Report on or before April 22, 2016. Please see the attached Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/08/2016. (lcapm3) (Entered: 04/08/2016)
2016-04-08Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 4/22/2016. (cdw) (Entered: 04/11/2016)
2016-04-229Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 04/22/2016)
2016-04-25MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the 9 Joint Status Report, the parties are directed to file, on or before June 21, 2016, a subsequent Joint Status Report advising the court of the parties' progress and suggesting next steps. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/25/2016. (lcapm3) (Entered: 04/25/2016)
2016-04-26Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 6/21/2016. (zmm) (Entered: 04/26/2016)
2016-06-2110Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 06/21/2016)
2016-06-23MINUTE ORDER: The court has reviewed 10 the parties' joint status report dated June 21, 2016, and has considered their respective positions as to further proceedings in this case. In the court's view, Defendant U.S. Department of Energy has provided good cause for the 62-day period that it seeks before submitting another joint status report. Accordingly, the parties shall submit a joint status report on August 22, 2016, in which the parties advise the court about the status of disclosures and Defendant's exemptions determinations. If appropriate, the parties shall propose a schedule for summary judgment briefing. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 06/23/2016. (lcapm3) (Entered: 06/23/2016)
2016-06-23Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Joint Status Report due by 8/22/2016. (cdw) (Entered: 06/23/2016)
2016-08-2211Joint STATUS REPORT and Proposed Briefing Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order by Plaintiff, # 2 Text of Proposed Order by Defendant)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 08/22/2016)
2016-08-23VACATED PURSUANT TO COURT'S ORDER OF 10/7/2016............MINUTE ORDER entering the following schedule for further proceedings, as proposed by the parties in their 11 Joint Status Report: (1) Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed by October 6, 2016; (2) Plaintiff's Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed by November 7, 2016; (3) Defendant's Reply and Opposition shall be filed by December 7, 2016; and (4) Plaintiff's Reply shall be filed by December 28, 2016. The court, at this time, declines to impose a production deadline. However, in light of the parties' agreement on a briefing schedule, the court will not be inclined to modify it to accommodate any delays in production. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 08/23/2016. (lcapm3) Modified on 8/23/2016 (cdw). Modified on 10/7/2016 (zcdw). (Entered: 08/23/2016)
2016-08-23Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant's Summary Judgment motion due by 10/6/2016. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 11/7/2016. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/7/2016. Plaintiff's Cross Motion due by 11/7/2016. Response to Cross Motion due by 12/7/2016. Reply to Cross Motion due by 12/28/2016. (cdw) (Entered: 08/23/2016)
2016-10-0612MOTION for Extension of Time to File Motion for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 10/06/2016)
2016-10-07VACATED PURSUANT TO COURT'S ORDER OF 12/9/2016............MINUTE ORDER granting 12 Motion for an Extension of Time to Move for Summary Judgment. The briefing schedule in this matter is the following: Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment shall be due on or before November 7, 2016; Plaintiff's Response and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment shall be due on or before December 9, 2016; Defendant's Response and Reply shall be due on or before January 9, 2017; Plaintiff's Reply shall be due on or before January 30, 2017. The August 23, 2016, Minute Order setting the briefing schedule in this case is hereby vacated. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/07/2016. Modified on 12/9/2016 (zcdw). (Entered: 10/07/2016)
2016-10-07Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant's Summary Judgment motion due by 11/7/2016. Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/9/2016. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 1/9/2017. Plaintiff's Cross Motion due by 12/9/2016. Response to Cross Motion due by 1/9/2017. Reply to Cross Motions due by 1/30/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 10/07/2016)
2016-11-0713MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Memorandum in Support, # 3 Declaration of Ann Dunlap (with exhibits), # 4 Declaration of Alexander Morris (with exhibits), # 5 Exhibit 1: NETL's Vaughn Index, # 6 Exhibit 2: DOE Headquarters' Vaughn Index, # 7 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 11/07/2016)
2016-12-0814Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply as to 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 12/08/2016)
2016-12-09VACATED PURSUANT TO COURT'S ORDER OF 1/12/2017............ MINUTE ORDER granting 14 Motion for Extension of Time to File Plaintiff's Response and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. The revised briefing schedule in this matter is as follows: Plaintiff's Response and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment shall be due on or before December 16, 2016; Defendant's Response and Reply shall be due on or before January 17, 2017; Plaintiff's Reply shall be due on or before February 6, 2017. The October 7, 2016, Minute Order setting the briefing schedule in this case is hereby vacated. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 12/09/2016. (lcapm3) Modified on 1/13/2017 (zcdw). (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-09Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Plaintiff's Response to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/16/2016. Reply to Motion for Summary Judgment due by 1/17/2017. Plaintiff's Cross Motion due by 12/16/2016. Response to Cross Motion due by 1/17/2017. Reply to Cross Motion due by 2/6/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 12/09/2016)
2016-12-1615Cross MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff's Partial Cross Motion and Opposition, # 2 Declaration of Dan Zegart, # 3 Exhibit (A-L) to Declaration of Dan Zegart, # 4 Exhibit (M-R) to Declaration of Dan Zegart, # 5 Statement of Facts, # 6 Statement of Genuine Issues, # 7 Text of Proposed Order)(Eubanks, Sharon). (Entered: 12/16/2016)
2016-12-1616Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (See Docket Entry 15 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 12/19/2016)
2017-01-1117Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File a Reply in Support of Its Motion for Summary Judgment and an Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 01/11/2017)
2017-01-12MINUTE ORDER granting Defendant's 17 Consent Motion for an Extension of Time. Defendant's Reply and Opposition shall be due on or before January 30, 2017, and Plaintiff's Reply shall be due on or before February 21, 2017. The December 9, 2016, Minute Order setting the briefing schedule in this case is hereby vacated. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 01/12/2017. (lcapm3) (Entered: 01/12/2017)
2017-01-12Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Defendant's reply and response due by 1/30/2017. Plaintiff's reply due by 2/21/2017. (cdw) (Entered: 01/13/2017)
2017-01-3018Memorandum in opposition to re 15 Cross MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 3, # 2 Supplemental Declaration of Ann Dunlap (with exhibits), # 3 Supplemental Declaration of Alexander Morris (with exhibit), # 4 Statement of Genuine Issues, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) . (Entered: 01/30/2017)
2017-01-3019REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) Modified on 1/31/2017 to correct docket linkage (jf). (Entered: 01/30/2017)
2017-02-2120REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 02/21/2017)
2017-09-1121MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER denying Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's 15 Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. If Defendant intends to renew its Motion for Summary Judgment, then the parties shall meet and confer and propose a briefing schedule by no later than October 2, 2017. See the attached Memorandum Opinion and Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 09/11/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 09/11/2017)
2017-09-11Set/Reset Deadlines/Hearings: Proposed Briefing Schedule due by 10/2/2017. (zcdw) (Entered: 09/12/2017)
2017-10-0222Joint MOTION for Briefing Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 10/02/2017)
2017-10-02MINUTE ORDER setting the schedule for further proceedings in this matter: (1) on or before November 1, 2017, the parties shall submit a Joint Status Report updating the court on the parties' efforts to resolve this dispute without further briefing; (2) Defendant shall file its Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment on or before November 16, 2017; (3) Plaintiff shall file its Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before December 18, 2017; (4) Defendant shall file its Reply in Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before January 8, 2018; and (5) Plaintiff shall file its Reply in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before January 29, 2018. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/02/2017. (lcapm1) (Entered: 10/02/2017)
2017-11-0123Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 11/01/2017)
2017-11-1424Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File a Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 11/14/2017)
2017-11-14MINUTE ORDER granting 24 Consent Motion for Extension of Time to File a Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment and setting the schedule for further proceedings in this matter: (1) Defendant shall file its Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment on or before December 18, 2017; (2) Plaintiff shall file its Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before January 17, 2018; (3) Defendant shall file its Reply in Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before February 7, 2018; and (4) Plaintiff shall file its Reply in Support of Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on or before February 28, 2018. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 11/14/2017. (lcapm3) (Entered: 11/14/2017)
2017-12-1825Renewed MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Second Supplemental Declaration of Ann Guy, # 4 Second Supplemental Declaration of Alexander Morris, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 12/18/2017)
2017-12-1926NOTICE of Supplemental Filing of Declarations by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Bruce Long, # 2 Declaration of Christopher Cofield, # 3 Declaration of Douglas Todd, # 4 Declaration of Kerry Bowers)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 12/19/2017)
2018-01-1727Cross MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment and opposition to defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Statement Genuine Issues, # 4 Text of Proposed Order)(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 01/17/2018)
2018-01-1728Memorandum in opposition to re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (See Docket Entry 27 to view document). (znmw) (Entered: 01/18/2018)
2018-02-0729Memorandum in opposition to re 27 Cross MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment and opposition to defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Genuine Issues)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 02/07/2018)
2018-02-0730REPLY to opposition to motion re 25 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 02/07/2018)
2018-02-2831REPLY to opposition to motion re 27 Cross MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment and opposition to defendants' renewed motion for summary judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Appendix)(Eubanks, Sharon) (Entered: 02/28/2018)
2018-09-1932MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER. The court grants in part and denies in part Defendant's 25 Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's 27 Cross-Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. The parties shall meet and confer and, no later than October 1, 2018, propose a schedule for a final round of summary judgment briefing. See the attached Memorandum Opinion and Order for details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 09/19/2018. (lcapm2) (Entered: 09/19/2018)
2018-09-19Set/Reset Deadlines: Meet & Confer Statement due by 10/1/2018. (zjd) (Entered: 09/20/2018)
2018-10-0133PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE (Joint) by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 10/01/2018)
2018-10-03MINUTE ORDER entering the briefing schedule proposed in the parties' 33 Joint Status Report. The schedule for further proceedings in this matter is as follows: (1) Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before December 28, 2018; (2) Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion and any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before February 11, 2019; (3) Defendant's Reply in Support of Summary Judgment and Opposition to any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before March 13, 2019; and (4) Plaintiff's Reply in Support of any Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is due on or before April 3, 2019. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/03/2018. (lcapm2) (Entered: 10/03/2018)
2018-10-03Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment due by 12/28/2018. Plaintiff's Opposition and Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment due by 2/11/2019. Defendant's Reply and Opposition due by 3/13/2019. Plaintiff's Reply due by 4/3/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 10/04/2018)
2018-12-2734Consent MOTION to Stay Proceedings in Light of a Lapse of Appropriations by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 12/27/2018)
2019-01-07MINUTE ORDER granting 34 Motion for a Stay of Proceedings. This matter is hereby stayed. Within three business days of Department of Justice operations resuming, Defendant shall notify the court by when it will file its Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 1/7/2019. (lcapm2) (Entered: 01/07/2019)
2019-01-2935NOTICE of Restored Funding and Joint Proposed Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY re Order on Motion to Stay, (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 01/29/2019)
2019-01-29MINUTE ORDER. In light of Defendant's Notice, ECF 35 , Defendant's renewed motion for summary judgment shall be due on or before February 15, 2019. Plaintiff's opposition and cross-motion shall be due on April 1, 2019. Defendant's opposition and reply shall be due on May 1, 2019. Plaintiff's reply shall be due on May 22, 2019. Signed by Amit P. Mehta on 1/29/2019. (lcapm2) (Entered: 01/29/2019)
2019-01-29Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment due by 2/15/2019. Plaintiff's Opposition and Cross-Motion due by 4/1/2019. Defendant's Opposition and Reply due by 5/1/2019. Plaintiff's Reply due by 5/22/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 02/05/2019)
2019-02-1436Consent MOTION to Modify the Briefing Schedule by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 02/14/2019)
2019-02-19MINUTE ORDER granting 36 Consent Motion to Modify Briefing Schedule. The court sets the following schedule for further proceedings in this matter: Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment shall be filed on or before March 4, 2019; Plaintiff's Cross-Motion and Opposition shall be filed on or before April 22, 2019; Defendant's Reply and Opposition to Plaintiff's Cross-Motion shall be filed on or before May 22, 2019; and Plaintiff's Reply shall be filed on or before June 12, 2019. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/19/2019. (lcapm3) (Entered: 02/19/2019)
2019-02-19Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment due by 3/4/2019. Plaintiff's Cross Motion and Opposition due by 4/22/2019. Defendant's Opposition and Reply due by 5/22/2019. Plaintiff's Reply due by 6/12/2019.(zjd) (Entered: 03/03/2019)
2019-03-0437Second MOTION for Summary Judgment by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Statement of Facts, # 3 Supplemantal Declaration of Ann Guy (with exhibits), # 4 Exhibit A: Supplemenatal DOE HQ Vaughn Index, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) Modified text on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 03/04/2019)
2019-04-2238Second MOTION for Summary Judgment by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Memorandum in Support, # 2 Declaration, # 3 Statement of Facts, # 4 Statement of genuine issues, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Eubanks, Sharon) Modified text on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 04/22/2019)
2019-04-2239Memorandum in opposition to 37 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (See Docket Entry 38 to view document) (tth) Modified text on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 04/23/2019)
2019-05-1640Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Response/Reply by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 05/16/2019)
2019-05-20MINUTE ORDER granting 40 Defendant's Consent Motion for Extension of Time. The court sets the following schedule for further proceedings in this matter: Defendant's Reply shall be filed on or before June 5, 2019 and Plaintiff's Reply shall be filed on or before July 3, 2019. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 05/20/2019. (lcapm3) (Entered: 05/20/2019)
2019-05-20Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's Opposition and Reply due by 6/5/2019. Plaintiff's Reply due by 7/3/2019. (zjd) (Entered: 05/20/2019)
2019-06-0541REPLY to opposition to motion re 37 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Supp. Decl. of Ann Guy (with exhibits))(Walker, Johnny) Modified text on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 06/05/2019)
2019-06-0542Memorandum in opposition to re 38 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment and opposition to defendant's motion for summary judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Supp. Decl. of Ann Guy (with exhibits))(Walker, Johnny) Modified text on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 06/05/2019)
2019-07-0343REPLY to opposition to motion re 38 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Eubanks, Sharon) Modified text and link on 7/10/2019 (znmw). (Entered: 07/03/2019)
2019-10-0344SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM to re 42 Memorandum in opposition to re 38 Second MOTION for Summary Judgment 37 Third MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Mark Hunzeker (with exhibits))(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 10/03/2019)
2019-12-0645MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER re: 37 Defendant's Second Motion for Summary Judgment and 38 Plaintiff's Second Motion for Summary Judgment. See the attached Memorandum Opinion and Order for additional details. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 12/06/2019. (lcapm3) (Entered: 12/06/2019)
2019-12-06Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 1/8/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 12/09/2019)
2020-01-0846Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 01/08/2020)
2020-01-09MINUTE ORDER. The court appreciates the parties' efforts to resolve this matter and likewise hopes to avoid yet another round of summary judgment briefing. The court agrees with Defendant that ordering it to produce a Vaughn Index at this juncture is premature; one may not be necessary based on the results of the search and the parties' efforts to meet and confer. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by January 29, 2020, which updates the court on Defendant's search of the Office of the Secretary, as well as whether Plaintiff disputes the adequacy of Defendant's segregability review. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 01/09/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 01/09/2020)
2020-01-09Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 1/29/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 01/09/2020)
2020-01-2947Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 01/29/2020)
2020-01-30MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by February 28, 2020, which updates the court on Defendant's search of the Office of the Secretary, as well as whether Plaintiff disputes the adequacy of Defendant's segregability review. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 01/30/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 01/30/2020)
2020-01-30Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 2/28/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 01/30/2020)
2020-02-2848STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 02/28/2020)
2020-02-28MINUTE ORDER setting a Status Hearing in this matter for March 17, 2020, at 3:30 p.m. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 02/28/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 02/28/2020)
2020-02-2849MOTION for Leave to File PLAINTIFFS STATUS REPORT AND PLAINTIFFS STATUS REPORT by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Kole, Allison) (Entered: 02/28/2020)
2020-02-28Set/Reset Hearings: Status Conference set for 3/17/2020 at 3:30 PM in Courtroom 10 before Judge Amit P. Mehta. (zjd) (Entered: 03/09/2020)
2020-03-05MINUTE ORDER granting 49 Motion for Leave to File Plaintiff's Status Report. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 03/05/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 03/05/2020)
2020-03-13MINUTE ORDER. The Status Conference set for March 17, 2020, at 3:30 PM in Courtroom 10 is hereby converted to a telephonic hearing. The court will send the parties instructions on accessing the court's teleconference line. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 3/13/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 03/13/2020)
2020-03-1650ORDER. Please see Standing Order No. 20-9, signed by Chief Judge Howell, In Re: Court Operations in Exigent Circumstances Created by the COVID-19 Pandemic. See the attached Order for further details. (lcapm3) (Entered: 03/16/2020)
2020-03-17ENTERED IN ERROR...MINUTE ORDER. Consistent with Standing Order No. 20-9, the status conference set for March 17, 2020, is hereby vacated. The parties shall meet and confer and, by April 15, 2020, file a Joint Status Report that proposes a new date and time for a status conference to be held as soon as practicable on or after May 19, 2020. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 03/17/2020. (lcapm3) Modified on 3/17/2020 (lcapm3). (Entered: 03/17/2020)
2020-03-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 4/15/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 03/17/2020)
2020-03-17MINUTE ORDER. Consistent with Standing Order No. 20-9, the status conference set for March 17, 2020, is hereby vacated. The parties shall meet and confer and, by April 15, 2020, file a Joint Status Report that proposes a new date and time for a status conference to be held as soon as practicable on or after April 20, 2020. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 03/17/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 03/17/2020)
2020-03-17Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 4/15/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 03/18/2020)
2020-04-1351Joint STATUS REPORT by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Kole, Allison) (Entered: 04/13/2020)
2020-04-14MINUTE ORDER. A telephonic status conference shall be held in this matter on April 21, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/14/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 04/14/2020)
2020-04-14MINUTE ORDER. The court will hold a status hearing in this case by telephone on April 21, 2020, at 10:30 a.m. Should any member of the public or media require access to the hearing, they should reach out to the Courtroom Deputy, Mr. Douyon, at Jean-Claude_Douyon@dcd.uscourts.gov for further instructions. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/14/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 04/14/2020)
2020-04-14Set/Reset Hearings: Telephone Conference set for 4/21/2020 at 10:30 AM before Judge Amit P. Mehta. (zjd) (Entered: 04/14/2020)
2020-04-1652NOTICE of Appearance by Allison Kole on behalf of CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Kole, Allison) (Entered: 04/16/2020)
2020-04-2153NOTICE of Filing Declaration by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY (Attachments: # 1 Declaration of Mark Hunzeker)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 04/21/2020)
2020-04-21Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Amit P. Mehta: Status Conference held on 4/21/2020. Status Report due by 5/21/2020. (Court Reporter: William Zaremba) (zjd) (Entered: 04/21/2020)
2020-04-27MINUTE ORDER. If Plaintiff wishes to challenge the sufficiency of Defendant's segregability review, it shall file a motion for partial summary judgment of no more than 10 pages by May 11, 2020. Defendant shall file a response by May 25, 2020, of no more than 10 pages. Plaintiff may file a reply brief of no more than 5 pages by June 3, 2020. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 04/27/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 04/27/2020)
2020-04-27Set/Reset Deadlines: Plaintiff's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment due by 5/11/2020. Defendant's Response due by 5/25/2020. Plaintiff's Reply due by 6/3/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 04/27/2020)
2020-05-1154MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Kole, Allison) (Entered: 05/11/2020)
2020-05-12NOTICE OF ERROR re 54 Motion for Partial Summary Judgment; emailed to allison.kole@gmail.com, cc'd 4 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Invalid attorney signature, 2. FYI: DO NOT REFILE. Attorney signature must match login/password. (zeg, ) (Entered: 05/12/2020)
2020-05-2155Joint STATUS REPORT by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Kole, Allison) (Entered: 05/21/2020)
2020-05-25MINUTE ORDER. Defendant shall continue to review at least 500 pages per month for production, and the parties shall file their next Joint Status Report by July 24, 2020. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 05/25/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 05/25/2020)
2020-05-2556Memorandum in opposition to re 54 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1)(Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 05/25/2020)
2020-05-25Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 7/24/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 05/26/2020)
2020-06-0357REPLY to opposition to motion re 54 MOTION for Partial Summary Judgment filed by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Exhibit 1, # 2 Exhibit Exhibit 2)(Kole, Allison) (Entered: 06/03/2020)
2020-07-2458Joint STATUS REPORT by CLIMATE INVESTIGATIONS CENTER. (Kole, Allison) (Entered: 07/24/2020)
2020-09-09MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by September 24, 2020. The court encourages the parties to make good faith efforts to resolve their differences to avoid yet another round of summary judgment briefing. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 09/09/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 09/09/2020)
2020-09-09Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 9/24/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 09/09/2020)
2020-09-2459Joint STATUS REPORT by UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY. (Walker, Johnny) (Entered: 09/24/2020)
2020-10-20MINUTE ORDER. The parties shall file an additional Joint Status Report by October 30, 2020, which updates the court on Defendant's processing and production of responsive records. The court will not order Defendant either to increase its monthly rate of review or produce a Vaughn index contemporaneous with each production. Signed by Judge Amit P. Mehta on 10/20/2020. (lcapm3) (Entered: 10/20/2020)
2020-10-20Set/Reset Deadlines: Joint Status Report due by 10/30/2020. (zjd) (Entered: 10/20/2020)
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