FOIA Requests Concerning Montana’s CWA Implementation

On March 13, 2014 Upper Missouri Waterkeeper filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with Region 8 of the Environmental Protection Agency.

The LowerGallatinTPA.FOIArequest-March-10-2014.pdf FOIA concerns the state of Montana’s implementation of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) or “pollution diets,” for unhealthy waterways in the Lower Gallatin watershed. As part of our mission protecting and improving the health of Southwest Montana’s watersheds we investigate, analyze, and advocate for improvements in our government’s work making sure our water remains fishable, swimmable, and drinkable.

The FOIArequest.NutrientRule&VarianceRule (March 13, 2014) FOIA concerns the state of Montana and Region 8 EPA’s discussions and decisionmaking concerning recently proposed numeric nutrient water quality standards and related variances. State law requires that waterbodies support multiple beneficial uses (e.g., agriculture, fish and associated aquatic life, recreation). At law states can use either narrative or numeric standards to protect those uses, although historically narrative standards were primarily used. Montana is currently working to implement numeric standards concerning nutrient levels allowable in waterways through a rulemaking process. To ensure that the interests of our members and the general public in possessing waters that are fishable, swimmable and drinkable, we filed this FOIA request to better understand the issues, challenges, opportunities and rationales our decisionmakers discussed in contemplating the aforementioned numeric nutrient rulemaking.

We perform these requests because the scientific and policy rationales informing much of our government’s decisionmaking is often unavailable to the public. That is why Upper Missouri Waterkeeper uses the FOIA to obtain documents, discussions and reference of communication among decisionmakers so as to better inform you, the public, of water quality issues affecting our water and communities, and to better our ability to represent our members’ and the public’s interests in defending Montana’s waterways and communities from projects that would do harm, and advocacy securing new regulations and protections that will provide critical defense and progress in the future.