Requesting Information Under
New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL)
Requests for records can be made to any state or local government office or agency by letter, fax or email. Your communication should say the request is being made "pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law." You should, but you are not required to use the form (if any) prepared by the agency to process its requests.
Citizens can use FOIL to monitor a facility's compliance with the terms and conditions of its permits, including compliance with all applicable regulations. This can often be the quickest way to get a facility to stop creating a nuisance. Because most environmental regulations and permits implement federal environmental programs, discovering noncompliance may support a citizen enforcement action in court. Facility managers know that records of noncompliance subject their company to liability for such an enforcement action.
To monitor compliance, you may request from the DEC monitoring, testing & compliance reports made by DEC (this applies to any state or local government agency), or made by the facility and submitted to the DEC. You may also request correspondence between DEC and facility operators, which often discusses incidents of noncompliance or violations of the law. All such documents are public and available by request under New York's Freedom of Information Law (FOIL).
You may be required to pay 25 cents per page for photocopies, but you may review the documents at DEC offices at no charge and may be able to take them out and copy them yourself more cheaply (or have a bonded copy service do so).
Send the DEC's FOIL form (link above) to the DEC Regional Office in which the facility is located. If you know the Division that has the information you want (e.g., Fish & Wildlife, Solid Waste, Air), call ahead and speak to the division director about what you're looking for. The DEC staff person may provide valuable help identifying documents you need. You'll need to specify fairly carefully what documents you want on the form (e.g., by dates). Then mail or fax the form to the regional director or, if you don't know who, to the FOIL officer.
If you are requesting information from other agencies, including a local government, call to see if they have their own form for FOIL requests. However, by law any written request made "pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law" is sufficient.
REQUESTS FOR INFORMATION AND RECORDS FROM FEDERAL AGENCIES IS MADE UNDER THE FEDERAL
FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT (FOIA)
Most of the rules governing FOIA requests apply to FOIL requests too.