The Department of Energy recently turned over more than 1,200 pages of heavily redacted documents in response to a records request about a subsidized biofuels company from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
In October, The DCNF filed a FOIA request with the Energy Department, asking for email records from government officials regarding federal loan guarantees given to Abengoa, a Spanish-based green energy company. The request came on the heels of reports Abengoa was running into big financial problems, despite being given generous taxpayer-backed loans.
The DOE gave The DCNF the records it requested Dec. 18, and after spending time reviewing the documents, it’s apparent there’s a lot of information the department did not want the public to see. The DOE redacted virtually all information specific to Abengoa — in many cases whole pages were blacked out.
Reporters were mostly interested in Abengoa’s $400 million biofuels plant near Hugoton, Kansas. The company got a $132 million federal loan and a $97 million grant to build the plant, but after a year of operation the plant seemed to be having problems of its own. Despite the hype surrounding the plant, Abengoa has filed for bankruptcy and halted operations in Hugoton.
A DOE FOIA officer handed over 1,239 pages of “previously released documents, along with the response letters that accompanied them, in regards to DOE’s Abengoa project.” He added that all “personal information in the response letters has been redacted.”
DOE also redacted “capitalized interest amounts” on Abengoa’s biofuel loan, along with internal agency communications they argued fell under the “deliberative process privilege.” DOE also argued portions of the risk assessment reports on Abengoa were redacted to protect the “deliberative process” of granting federal loans.
Apparently that’s everything in Abengoa’s risk assessments except for some generic language.