Withdrawal of CAFO Information Reporting Rule Upheld.

In 2011, the defendant (U.S. EPA) proposed a rule that would have required a confined animal feeding operation (CAFO) to release comprehensive data providing precise CAFO locations, animal types, and number of head as well as personal contact information including names addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of CAFO owners.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had informed the defendant that the release of such personal and confidential information could constitute a domestic safety risk.  The DHS pointed out that such personal business information  is exempted from disclosure under FOIA enumerated exemptions No. 4 and No. 6.  In an earlier challenge to the proposed rule, a different court held that the opponents to the rule lacked standing for failure to demonstrate an actual or imminent injury - American Farm Bureau Federation, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 13-1751 ADM/TNL, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9106 (D. Minn. Jan. 27, 2015).  The defendant withdrew the proposed rule in 2012, reserving the right to developing a similar rule in the future.  The plaintiffs, various activist groups, generally opposed to confinement livestock facilities and related production activities challenged the defendant's withdrawal of the rule as a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).  The court granted summary judgment for the defendant given the greater deference owed to the defendant when it withdraws a rule and maintains the status quo.  The court agreed with the defendant that the better approach was to "explore, develop and assess" existing sources of data and keep an option open to require mandatory reporting of such information in the future.  The court also determined that the withdrawal of the rule did not violate the Clean Water Act.  Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. McCarthy, No. 13-1306 (RDM), 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131653 (D. D.C. Sept. 29, 2015).