Title 45


5.31 What are the reasons records may be withheld

§ 5.31 What are the reasons records may be withheld?

While we are committed to providing public access to as many of our records as possible, there are instances in which information falls within one or more of the FOIA's nine exemptions and disclosure would either foreseeably harm an interest protected by a FOIA exemption or disclosure is prohibited by law. We review all records and weigh and assess all legal and policy requirements prior to making a final disclosure determination. A description of the nine FOIA exemptions is provided in paragraphs (a) through (i) of this section.

(a) Exemption 1. Exemption 1 protects from disclosure information specifically authorized under criteria established by an Executive order to be kept secret in the interest of national defense or foreign policy and are in fact properly classified pursuant to such Executive order.

(b) Exemption 2. Exemption 2 authorizes our agency to withhold records that are related solely to the internal personnel rules and practices of an agency.

(c) Exemption 3. Exemption 3 authorizes our agency to withhold records which are specifically exempted from disclosure by statute (other than 5 U.S.C. 552(b)) provided that such statute requires that the matters be withheld from the public in such a manner as to leave no discretion on the issue; or establishes particular criteria for withholding or refers to particular types of matters to be withheld; and if enacted after the date of enactment of the OPEN FOIA Act of 2009, October 28, 2009, specifically cites to 5 U.S.C. 552(b)(3).

(d) Exemption 4. Exemption 4 authorizes our agency to withhold trade secrets and commercial or financial information obtained from a person and privileged or confidential.

(e) Exemption 5. Exemption 5 authorizes our agency to withhold inter-agency or intra agency memorandums or letters that would not be available by law to a party other than an agency in litigation with the agency, provided that the deliberative process privilege shall not apply to records created 25 years or more before the date on which the records were requested.

(f) Exemption 6. Exemption 6 authorizes our agency to protect information in personnel and medical files and similar files when the disclosure of such information would constitute a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.

(g) Exemption 7. Exemption 7 authorizes our agency to withhold records or information compiled for law enforcement purposes, but only to the extent that the production of such law enforcement records or information would cause the following harm(s):

(1) Could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings;

(2) Would deprive a person of a right to a fair trial or an impartial adjudication;

(3) Could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy;

(4) Could reasonably be expected to disclose the identity of a confidential source, including a state, local, or foreign agency or authority, or any private institution which furnished information on a confidential basis, and, in the case of a record or information compiled by a criminal law enforcement authority in the course of a criminal investigation, or by an agency conducting lawful national security intelligence investigation, information furnished by a confidential source;

(5) Would disclose techniques and procedures for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, or would disclose guidelines for law enforcement investigations or prosecutions, if such disclosure could reasonably be expected to risk circumvention of the law; or

(6) Could reasonably be expected to endanger the life or physical safety of any individual.

(h) Exemption 8. Exemption 8 authorizes our agency to withhold records that are contained in or related to examination, operating, or condition reports prepared by, on behalf of, or for the use of an agency responsible for the regulation or supervision of financial institutions.

(i) Exemption 9. Exemption 9 authorizes our agency to withhold geological and geophysical information and data, including maps, concerning wells.