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Adequacy of Administrative Record

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Taylor Energy Co. v. U.S. Dep't of the Interior, No. 09-1029, 2010 WL 3429470 (D.D.C. Aug. 31, 2010) (Huvelle, J.). Reverse FOIA/adequacy of administrative record: The court finds that MMS's written decision to fully disclose a trust agreement is "arbitrary and capricious" because its "failure to properly characterize the evidence upon which it relied prevents the Court from concluding that the agency 'examine[d] the relevant data,' as is necessary before the Court can determine whether there was 'a rationale connection between the facts found and the choice made.'" The court notes that MMS's decision "was the first time that 'the question of public availability was apparently brought to [plaintiff]'s attention,' and thus the agency 'ruled on a ground of which [plaintiff] had no prior notice and to which it had had no opportunity to respond." Accordingly, the court vacates MMS's decision, "den[ies] defendants' motion for summary judgment as to the Trust Agreement, and remand[s] the issue to the agency for further consideration and supplementation of the record as necessary on the issue of waiver." The court further notes that "[i]n the event that the agency agrees with plaintiff that no waiver has occurred, it must then address the merits of plaintiff's Exemption 4 arguments."

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