USGS Finally Releases Select Data Nearly Five Years After Trade Association’s FOIA Request

Release came three days before court imposed deadline for USGS legal response to organization’s complaint

ALEXANDRIA, Va.Feb. 3, 2016PRLog – Nearly five years after the Pavement Coatings Technology Council (PCTC) filed its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request asking the US Geological Survey (USGS) to produce the exact science behind its proposed ban of refined coal-tar based (RTS) sealant, the USGS has finally disclosed an incomplete portion of its data.

The release follows four appeals by PCTC to the USGS, which repeatedly has failed to produce the information it claims supports a position that refined coal tar-based pavement sealant (RTS) is a significant source of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) found in waterways and therefore should be banned.

The disclosure also comes 18 months after PCTC filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia seeking, among other items, the data supporting these allegations.

The timing of the data release is noteworthy, because it came just three days before a court imposed deadline for the USGS to file its legal response to PCTC’s position that PCTC is entitled to this data. The Feb. 2, 2016, deadline was set after USGS requested and received two extensions to file its response.

Even though the data are still incomplete and limited in scope, PCTC is grateful for the opportunity to continue examining the scientific basis that USGS used to support its position on RTS.

PCTC looks forward to complete scientific transparency from USGS so that PCTC can analyze all underlying data and make a comprehensive response to USGS claims concerning the alleged environmental impact of RTS.

More information about the FOIA lawsuit is available here and here.

Since the lawsuit was filed in July 2014, the USGS engaged in a protracted exercise it referred to as “discretionary release,” which involved making available almost fully redacted documents such as this one.

In an attempt to move things along, PCTC described in detail the information it was seeking in June 2015. The USGS asserted it was entitled to withhold the data PCTC was seeking up until its partial release three days ago.

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