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Center for Biological Diversity v. United States Fish & Wildlife Service

ELR Citation: 48 ELR 20058
Nos. 16-00527, (D. Ariz., 03/30/2018) (MacDonald, J.)

A district court held that FWS must comply with a FOIA request for information from its Law Enforcement Management Information System (LEMIS), which, among other things, the agency uses to track species being imported or exported; monitor quotas of a particular species; and intervene in illegal trade and the unlawful commercial exploitation of fish, wildlife, and plants. An environmental group filed a FOIA request seeking certain information from LEMIS, but FWS withheld some of the information, claiming it was exempt as confidential commercial information. But each of the entities who have urged confidentiality have broadly stated the possibility of competitive harm if the LEMIS data were released. In this case, however, LEMIS data has been released in full for more than a decade prior to FWS redacting any information. Once FWS began redacting fields, it did so without any sort of consistency. Neither has FWS presented a change of policy, circumstance, or statute that might explain its uneven responses to FOIA requests. Accordingly, the corporate speculations are insufficient to support exemption. The court ordered FWS to provide the requested information within 14 days.