Freedom of Information Act

Access to Agency Information

The Illinois EPA has an online tool created to provide transparency and easier public access to Agency documents. The public can access the IEPA Document Explorer to search more than 26,000 sites/facilities for:

  • Air construction and operating permits;

  • National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) water discharge permits;

  • Leaking Underground Storage Tank (LUST) technical documents;

  • Site Remediation Program (SRP) technical documents; and

  • State Response Action Program sites technical documents.

Through IEPA Document Explorer, businesses and the public can search for locations of interest by site name, location address, and/or Bureau ID, or by a geographic mapping tool for 475,000 documents consisting of more than 13.5 million pages. General information about facilities, such as their Bureau ID, can be obtained through the Illinois EPA Agency Facility Inventory and Information Search System (AFISS) website.  

The public may also access information by submitting a request pursuant to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) (5 ILCS 140). The Agency’s corresponding rules (“Access to Public Records of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency,” 2 Ill. Adm. Code 1828) provide the framework by which Illinois EPA public records may be requested, accessed, inspected, and duplicated.

Your request for information can be submitted through one of the following means: the interactive FOIA Request Web Form, or through fax, the U.S. mail, or special carrier. Of these options, the FOIA Request Web Form allows for the quickest response to your request.

To submit a FOIA request using the Illinois EPA FOIA Request Web Form, the Agency requires that FOIA requesters create an account. More information can be found in the When must I register and why must I register? FAQ topic. An account is not required to submit requests via fax, U.S. mail, or special carrier. Anonymous requests will be accepted and processed, and can be submitted without creating an account. Anonymous request can be submitted via fax, U.S. mail, or special carrier.

Illinois EPA Records

Illinois EPA public records are primarily maintained by location, site/facility name, or project. Furthermore, these records are subdivided into categories reflecting the relevant Agency program, or document type. Consequently, it is important to provide as much specific information as possible when requesting information through FOIA. In addition, Illinois EPA public records are maintained in various media including paper, microfilm, digital image, and computerized records.

Access to, or copies of, public records may be obtained through FOIA by several methods including an on-site records review at Agency Headquarters, Agency duplication (fees may be assessed) and mailing, or use of a copy contractor by the requester to perform duplication. The appropriate method will depend upon the type of media in which the requested records are maintained and the quantity of records requested. Likewise, any fees that may be assessed will vary with the type of media and the quantity of records requested.

For more information on FOIA and how to request information under FOIA, see the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What is FOIA?
  2. What is the FOIA request process?
  3. How can I submit a FOIA request?
  4. When must I register and why must I register?
  5. To whom do I submit my FOIA request?
  6. What information is to be included in my FOIA request?
  7. What is a "commercial purpose" FOIA request?
  8. Will the Illinois EPA respond to "commercial purpose" FOIA requests?
  9. How can I submit a FOIA request that is for a commercial purpose?
  10. What happens after I submit my FOIA request?
  11. Is there a fee associated with a FOIA request?
  12. Is there a process to appeal Agency decisions?


What is FOIA?

FOIA is the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140), records in the possession of public agencies may be accessed by the public upon written request. Pursuant to 5 ILCS 140, Section 2(c), a public record is any records, reports, forms, writings, letters, memoranda, books, papers, maps, photographs, cards, tapes, recordings, electronic data processing records, recorded information and all other documentary materials, regardless of physical form or characteristics, having been prepared, or having been or being used, received, possessed or under the control of any public body. Records that are not subject to release via the FOIA process include confidential and trade secret information. These records are defined in  2 Ill. Adm. Code 1828.202.

What is the FOIA request process?

The Illinois EPA has rules (2 Ill. Adm. Code 1828) regulating the submittal of requests for information pursuant to FOIA. These rules include definitions, procedures for requesting public records, time frame for responding to requests, procedures regarding exemption from public disclosure, appeal rights, and a revised fee schedule for the duplication of public records.

How can I submit a FOIA request?

FOIA requests may be submitted by any of the following methods: use of the Internet FOIA web form, Fax, U.S. Mail, or special carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.).

When must I register and why must I register?

The Agency only requires FOIA requesters to create an account to submit requests through its FOIA web form. The reasons for creating an account are:

  • Once you create an account, you will no longer have to enter any requester information other than your email address and password. This will simplify the process of submitting requests, especially if you frequently submit FOIA requests and/or submit multiple requests on the same day.
  • Having account information reduces the possibility of requester information being entered incorrectly and delaying FOIA responses due to the inability to send responsive information.
  • NOTE: If multiple people use the same email address, be advised that response letters will be addressed to ONLY the name entered into the account registration. If you need responses sent to specific individuals, they each need to have a unique email address.

To whom do I submit my FOIA request?

You are encouraged to submit your request through the FOIA web form to ensure that your request is processed appropriately. However, FOIA requests may also be submitted via Fax, U.S. Mail, or special carrier. Any such requests, or any follow-up inquiries that you may have on the status of your request, on-site record review appointments, record duplication fees, or copy contractor questions should be directed to:

Sharon Dowson
Illinois EPA FOIA #16
Division of Records Mgmt.
1021 N. Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
(217) 782-2137 (Voice)
(217) 782-9290 (Fax)

What information is to be included in my FOIA request?

By using the FOIA web form to submit your request, you will be prompted to include the information necessary to process your request. The online request form will conveniently guide you through completing the request and help to ensure that the request is complete and focused. By using the online form, your request will automatically be directed to the appropriate FOIA staff, avoiding potential delays in mailing and routing paper requests.

If you submit your request by Fax, U.S. Mail, or special carrier, it is preferred that your request state that you are requesting the information under the Freedom of Information Act and must clearly describe the information being sought. Information provided should include facility name, addresses (street address, city, etc.), additional location description, any identification numbers associated with the site (incident number, permit number, Agency ID number, Bureau specific ID numbers, etc.), and any other information that will assist Illinois EPA staff in locating the specific information requested.

Illinois EPA files are very extensive, so it is important that requests be as specific as possible. A focused, specific request will avoid any unnecessary delays and ensure that it can be processed in a timely manner and avoid any unnecessary copying fees. Each request must also include an appropriate means of ensuring that the Illinois EPA can provide the requested records, which may include contact information for the requester, including name, organization, mailing address, email address, fax number, and daytime phone number. Providing this information, such as the requester's name, is not mandatory as long as the requester submits a method for the Illinois EPA to provide the requested records and communicate with the requester, such as an email address. However, the Illinois EPA generally receives more than 4,000 FOIA requests each year, and the requested contact information is helpful in allowing the Illinois EPA to track, locate, and identify the various requests it receives. 

What is a "commercial purpose" FOIA request?

FOIA is the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (5 ILCS 140), “commercial purpose” means the use of any part of a public record or records, or information derived from public records, in any form for sale, resale, or solicitation or advertisement for sales or services. (5 ILCS 140/2(c-10)). The Illinois EPA will not treat requests made by news media or non-profit, scientific, or academic organizations as "commercial purpose" requests when the principal purpose of the request is: (i) to access and disseminate information concerning news and current or passing events; (ii) for articles of opinion or features of interest to the public; or (iii) for the purpose of academic, scientific, or public research or education.  Depending on the circumstances, the Illinois EPA may designate requests for public records, including requests for database information, that are submitted for the purpose of providing the information acquired to third parties for a fee as commercial purpose requests.

Will the Illinois EPA respond to "commercial purpose" FOIA requests?

Yes. The Illinois EPA will respond to commercial purpose requests within 21 working days, in the manner provided under FOIA. (5 ILCS 140/3.1; 2 Ill. Admin Code 1828.305). While the time for responding to commercial purpose requests is slightly longer than for non-commercial requests, the Illinois EPA strives to provide records that are subject to public disclosure within a reasonable period considering the size and complexity of the request, and giving priority to records requested for non-commercial purposes. 

How can I submit a FOIA request that is for a commercial purpose?

A request that is submitted for a commercial purpose may be submitted to the Illinois EPA in the same manner as a request for a non-commercial purpose. FOIA requests may be submitted by any of the following methods: use of the Internet FOIA web form, Fax, U.S. Mail, or special carrier (UPS, FedEx, etc.).

You are encouraged to submit your request through the FOIA web form to ensure that your request is processed appropriately. FOIA requests that are sent via Fax, U.S. Mail, or special carrier and any follow-up inquiries that you may have on the status of your request, on-site record review appointments, record duplication fees, or copy contractor questions should be directed to:

Sharon Dowson
Illinois EPA FOIA #16
Division of Records Mgmt.
1021 N. Grand Avenue East
P.O. Box 19276
Springfield, Illinois 62794-9276
(217) 782-2137 (Voice)
(217) 782-9290 (Fax)

What happens after I submit my FOIA request?

All non-commercial requests are generally processed in the order in which they are received. The Agency will respond to non-commercial requests within five working days of receipt of the request. A five-day extension is allowed with written notification to the requester (2 Ill. Adm. Code 1828.501). The Illinois EPA will respond to commercial requests within 21 working days.

If the requested records are 400 pages or less in length, the pages will be copied and mailed to the requester. If the records are more than 400 pages in length, the requester will be notified and advised of options for viewing or copying the files. Those options include:

  1. Scheduling an on-site review of the records at Illinois EPA Headquarters in Springfield,
  2. Hiring of a service by the requester to copy the files, or
  3. Notification of the estimated fees that will be incurred by the requester so that a guarantee of payment can be made by the requester before the Agency copies the files and mails them to the requester (no information will be sent until receipt of payment).

Requesters will also be given the opportunity to narrow the scope of their request so that it includes less than 400 pages of material.

Is there a fee associated with a FOIA request?

If the requested information is 400 pages or less, the pages will be copied and mailed to the requester at no cost. Different fees for other media (e.g., microfilm) may also be assessed. If the information requested is greater than 400 pages, there will be a charge of $0.15 per page for black and white, letter or legal sized copies. Fees for copies in color or in a size other than letter or legal will be assessed based on the actual cost for reproducing the records.

Fees may be waived or reduced under certain circumstances. In general, the waiver or reduction of fees will be granted when it is determined to be in the public interest to do so (2 Ill. Adm. Code, Section 1828.603). If a fee is required, information will not be released until the fee is paid in full.

Is there a process to appeal Agency decisions?

If all or part of the information you requested was denied, the provisions for appealing the Agency’s decision are found at 2 Ill. Adm. Code 1828.505.