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Montana asbestos prosecution falling apart, but FOIA's strong



Federal prosecutors moved to drop criminal charges against another former W.R. Grace executive in Missoula yesterday, and District Court Judge Donald Malloy quickly agreed. From AP:

A day earlier, Molloy questioned how the prosecution intended to prove a conspiracy charge against McCaig, who left Libby in 1988.

"You can't have a conspiracy to do something illegal, can you, if there is no law that makes your conduct illegal?" Molloy asked, referring to the Clean Air Act's criminal statute, which wasn't enacted until 1990.

Three former Grace executives and the company itself remain defendants in the case, charged with covering up the damage to human health from asbestos-containing vermiculite mined near Libby, Mont.

Earlier posts on Libby trial here. The case could go to the jury next week, if it gets that far.

Here in D.C., the EPA has released a government memo on the clean-up of the site, just a week after Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed suit. Quick work. PEER issued a news release, which included praise for the Obama Administration:

This quick resolution of the PEER lawsuit was the first indication that the pledges by President Obama and Attorney General Holder of a new openness and presumption of disclosure in administering the Freedom of Information Act will be honored.

"We are encouraged that the Freedom of Information Act may become an even more powerful tool for government accountability," remarked PEER Staff Counsel Christine Erickson, who filed the lawsuit. "We have many more dirty bureaucratic closets that we intend to air out."

True enough. And the Obama Administration -- as with any Administration -- will eagerly air out the ones it wants aired out.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.