For Immediate Release:
February 26, 2015

Contact:
Craig Richardson
Richardson@eelegal.org
202-758-8301

Following Rep. Grijalva Inspiration, E&E Legal Files FOIA Request with the University of Deleware Seeking Records Relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy

Washington, D.C. — Today, the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal), in conjunction with the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FMELC) and the Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI), filed a Delaware Freedom of Information Act request (FOIA) with the University of Delaware related to Dr. John Byrne, Director of the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy and Distinguished Professor of Energy and Climate Policy.

Specifically, the FOIA request seeks documents describing the University of Delaware’s policy or policies relating to disclosure applying to Dr. Byrne; records in the University’s possession relating to outside funding, grants, or other contributions made to support Dr. John Byrne’s work at or relating to the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy; records involving Dr. Byrne’s outside funding, including consulting fees, promotional considerations, speaking fees, honoraria, travel expenses, salary and other compensation or monies given to Dr. Byrne which did not originate with the University itself; financial disclosure forms in which Dr. Byrne lists the University of Delaware or the State of Delaware as his affiliation; and records reflecting Dr. Byrne’s total annual compensation for each year at the University of Delaware.

Those who have followed recent news reports may notice that this FOIA request was inspired by and even replicated the request that U.S. Representative Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) made to seven universities, including Delaware. In his letters, Congressman Grijalva notes that the “disclosure of a few key pieces of information will establish the impartiality of climate research and policy recommendations published in your institute’s name…

[C]onflicts should be clear to stakeholders, including policymakers who use scientific information to make decisions.” Although the University responding to Rep. Grijalva is discretionary, processing FOIA requests from Delaware citizens is not.

“We certainly appreciate Congressman Grijalva’s rhetoric about the importance of disclosure and transparency,” said Chris Horner, E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow and the attorney who filed the FOIA request on behalf of the three organizations. “His insistence that the Constitution compels him to demand these records — citing to no authority for why the universities should provide them — so moved us that we followed in his footsteps, if in our case by proceeding under Delaware law.”

It is possible that Representative Grijalva assumes that congressional letterhead carries authority to insist such demands be satisfied. Regardless, E&E Legal, FME Law and CRI appreciate the Congressman’s enthusiasm that the University dedicate itself to producing such records.

The groups far more narrowly tailor the period of time covered by their request, otherwise modeled after Rep. Grijalva’s nearly verbatim (also changing of course the party whose records are involved, which we are confident is not material to whether records should be released). The requesters look forward to the University of Delaware taking to heart Rep. Grijalva’s embrace of transparency, and satisfying this request made pursuant to Delaware’s statute which implements the legislature’s determination that, for institutions including the University, “it is vital that citizens have easy access to public records in order that the society remain free and democratic”. FOIA § 10001.

“We have followed Rep. Grijalva’s footsteps for our request, if under actual statutory making our request, unlike the Congressman’s, not discretionary. UDel has provided records in the past to Greenpeace, and we are confident that the State of Delaware will comply with this request,” concludes Horner.

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The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

The Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FME Law) provides litigation and research services to qualified clients. We concentrate on cases involving landmark free-market pro-environmental litigation; use of open records and data quality laws to force greater governmental accountability and transparency; and, cases that allow the Clinic to help create the next generation of free market oriented attorneys.

The Caesar Rodney Institute (CRI) is a 501(c)(3) research and education organization founded in 2008 to be a counter-voice to the prevailing wisdom in Dover that raising taxes (or not allowing them to sunset) and increasing spending, regulations, and central planning through state agencies were going to solve Delaware’s fiscal and quality of life problems.

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