Agency instructions on access, marking, safekeeping, accountability, transmission, disposition, and destruction of classification information and material will be found in the EPA Security Manual for Safeguarding Classified Material. These instructions shall conform with the National Security Council Directive of May 17, 1972, governing the classification, downgrading, declassification, and safeguarding of National Security Information.
When information or material is originated within EPA and it is believed to require classification, the person or persons responsible for its origination shall protect it in the manner prescribed for protection of classified information. The information will then be transmitted under appropriate safeguards to the Director, Security and Inspection Division, who will forward it to the department having primary interest in it with a request that a classification determination be made.
A holder of information or material which incorporates classified information properly originated by other agencies of the Federal Government shall observe and respect the classification assigned by the originator.
If a holder believes there is unnecessary classification, that the assigned classification is improper, or that the document is subject to declassification, he shall so advise the Director, Security and Inspection Division, who will be responsible for obtaining a resolution.
(c) Downgrading and declassification.
Classified information and material officially transferred to the Agency during its establishment, pursuant to Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1970, shall be declassified in accordance with procedures set forth below. Also, the same procedures will apply to the declassification of any information in the Agency's possession which originated in departments or agencies which no longer exist, except that no declassification will occur in such cases until other departments having an interest in the subject matter have been consulted. Other classified information in the Agency's possession may be downgraded or declassified by the official authorizing its classification, by a successor in capacity, or by a supervisory official of either.
(1) General Declassification Schedule—
(i) Top Secret.
Information or material originally classified Top Secret shall become automatically downgraded to Secret at the end of the second full calendar year following the year in which it was originated, downgraded to Confidential at the end of the fourth full calendar year following the year in which it was originated, and declassified at the end of the 10th full calendar year following the year in which it was originated.
Information and material originally classified Secret shall become automatically downgraded to Confidential at the end of the second full calendar year following the year in which it was originated, and declassified at the end of the eighth full calendar year following the year in which it was originated.
Information and material originally classified Confidential shall become automatically declassified at the end of the sixth full calendar year following the year in which it was originated.
(2) Exemption from the General Declassification Schedule.
Information or material classified before June 1, 1972, assigned to Group 4 under Executive Order No. 10501, as amended, shall be subject to the General Declassification Schedule. All other information or material classified before June 1, 1972, whether or not assigned to Groups 1, 2, or 3, of Executive Order No. 10501, as amended, shall be excluded from the General Declassification Schedule. However, at any time after the expiration of 10 years after the date of origin it shall be subject to a mandatory classification review and disposition in accordance with the following criteria and conditions:
It shall be declassified unless it falls within one of the following criteria:
(a) Classified information or material furnished by foreign governments or international organizations and held by the United States on the understanding that it be kept in confidence.
(b) Classified information or material specifically covered by statute, or pertaining to cryptography, or disclosing intelligence sources or methods.
(c) Classified information or material disclosing a system, plan, installation, project, or specific foreign relations matter, the continuing protection of which is essential to the national security.
(d) Classified information or material the disclosure of which would place a person in immediate jeopardy.
(ii) Mandatory review of exempted material.
All classified information and material originated after June 1, 1972, which is exempted under any of the above criteria shall be subject to a classification review by the originating department at any time after the expiration of 10 years from the date of origin provided:
(a) A department or member of the public requests a review;
(b) The request describes the document or record with sufficient particularity to enable the department to identify it; and
(c) The record can be obtained with a reasonable amount of effort.
(d) Information or material which no longer qualifies for exemption under any of the above criteria shall be declassified. Information or material which continues to qualify under any of the above criteria shall be so marked, and, unless impossible, a date for automatic declassification shall be set.
All requests for “mandatory review” shall be directed to:
The Director, Security and Inspection Division shall promptly notify the action office of the request, and the action office shall immediately acknowledge receipt of the request in writing.
(iv) Burden of proof for administrative determinations.
The burden of proof is on the originating Agency to show that continued classification is warranted within the terms of this paragraph (c)(2).
(v) Availability of declassified material.
Upon a determination under paragraph (ii) of this paragraph (c)(2), that the requested material no longer warrants classification, it shall be declassified and made promptly available to the requester, if not otherwise exempt from disclosure under section 552(b) of Title 5 U.S.C. (Freedom of Information Act) or other provision of law.
(vi) Classification review requests.
As required by paragraph (ii) of this paragraph (c)(2) of this order, a request for classification review must describe the document with sufficient particularity to enable the Department or Agency to identify it and obtain it with a reasonable amount of effort. Whenever a request is deficient in its description of the record sought, the requester should be asked to provide additional identifying information whenever possible. Before denying a request on the ground that it is unduly burdensome, the requester should be asked to limit his request to records that are reasonably obtainable. If nonetheless the requester does not describe the records sought with sufficient particularity, or the record requested cannot be obtained with a reasonable amount of effort, the requester shall be notified of the reasons why no action will be taken and of his right to appeal such decision.