Court protects energy policy group records

June 17, 2005 at 11:20 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- A federal appeals court in Washington Friday reversed a lower-court order forcing nine government agencies to give up documents about national energy policy.

The documents relating to the National Energy Development Policy Group, a board headed by Vice President Dick Cheney, were sought by a public interest litigation organization, Judicial Watch.

Judicial Watch filed suit in 2001 against the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Energy, Interior, Transportation and Treasury, and the Environmental Protection Agency, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Office of Management and Budget.

The public interest organization sought records that would have revealed the workings of the energy policy group, using the Freedom of Information Act.

But a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the energy policy group was not an "agency" subject to FOIA, and that in any case a FOIA provision exempted pre-decision deliberations.

The case was separate from an earlier one in which the federal courts ruled Cheney did not have to disclose documents involving the energy policy group.

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