CEI v. OSTP
Polar Vortex and the Freedom of Information Act
Docket Number: No. 14-1806
Case Status: Closed
Court Level: U.S. District Court
UPDATE October, 2016: In a March 2016 Order to Show Cause, the court sought an explanation of OSTP’s search process, and indicated it was considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on OSTP, and granting CEI’s 2015 request for discovery. It subsequently granted discovery. The case was settled in October.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) filed a lawsuit against the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), seeking documents related to that agency’s controversial video, The Polar Vortex Explained in 2 Minutes. The video, released in January 2014, attempted to blame global warming for the unusually cold winter weather.
CEI petitioned OSTP to correct its claim under the federal Information Quality Act. But the agency denied the petition, claiming that Dr. Holdren’s statement was a “personal opinion” that was exempt from the law. CEI then filed a Freedom of Information Act request on June 13, 2014 for documents related to the video’s production as well as to the agency’s refusal to correct its claim, but the agency refused to disclose most of those records.
CEI subsequently filed suit in federal district court. On February 10, 2016, the court ruled partially in CEI’s favor. CEI is now waiting to receive the documents whose disclosure was ordered by the court.
On March 4, OSTP released documents, admitting that it found other copies of letters that CEI had requested, prompting the court to question whether OSTP performed a proper search. In a March 23 Order to Show Cause, the court sought an explanation of OSTP’s search process, and indicated it was considering the possibility of imposing sanctions on OSTP, and granting CEI’s 2015 request for discovery. On May 9, the court ruled, granting discovery to CEI.
PROCEEDINGS & ORDERS
May 9, 2016 – Memorandum Modifying Order and Granting Limited Discovery
March 23, 2016 – Order to Show Cause
March 4, 2016 – OSTP Released Documents
February 10, 2016 – COURT RULING: Order on Summary Judgment by U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
February 10, 2016 – MEMORANDUM on Order on Summary Judgment in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
December 4, 2014 – REPLY: OSTP Responds to CEI’s Complaint
October 29, 2014 – COMPLAINT: FOIA Complaint against OSTP filed by CEI