The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
BLM Fails to Comply with Court Order, Refuses to Change Transparency Policy
Just more than three months ago, in a momentous victory for the public’s right to know and government transparency, U.S. District Court Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch ruled on Feb. 13, that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated the public’s right to know when it concealed the identity of the entities that nominate public lands for gas drilling leases. Specifically, the court held that BLM’s asserted justification for withholding the requested information “runs directly contrary to the purpose of the public sale process.”
The Western Environmental Law Center (WELC), on behalf of Citizens for a Healthy Community (CHC), filed the FOIA request and subsequent lawsuit that resulted in the court’s favorable ruling. The organizations were seeking the names of the corporations that had nominated 30,000 acres of public lands surrounding the North Fork Valley in western Colorado for drilling and fracking.
On April 15, BLM released the names of the EOI (Expression of Interest) submitters that had nominated the public lands at issue in the lawsuit. However, despite this court ruling, BLM staff has indicated that it does not intend to amend its policy of refusing to release of the identity of EOI submitters to the public.
Now, WELC, CHC and 27 other local and national groups are calling on the BLM to lift this veil of secrecy and bring its policy in compliance with the court’s ruling. In a letter sent today to BLM, the organizations labeled BLM’s refusal to change its policy “inappropriate, illegal, and inconsistent with the mandates of FOIA.”
“It is inconsistent with BLM’s position as a public agency and steward of our public resources that it continues to put up such a fight to withhold information about the corporations interested in extracting public resources,” said Megan Anderson, author of the letter and WELC attorney. “Even after a U.S. District Court judge held that the agency had no basis for withholding information about the nominations of oil and gas lease parcels, the agency continues to stonewall; BLM must revise its policy so that public can acquire this information without involving the time-consuming and costly legal system,” she concluded.
"Farmers, ranchers and concerned residents in Delta County and elsewhere deserve transparency from the BLM. It's time for the BLM to end its secretive policy of withholding expressions of interest and to make those documents publicly available when it announces its quarterly oil and gas lease sales across the country," said Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community.
In addition to WELC and CHC, the letter was signed by 27 other organizations: Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Blancett Ranches, Californians for Western Wilderness, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, EcoFlight, Food & Water Watch, Fractivist, Great Old Broads for Wilderness, High Country Citizens’ Alliance, Los Padres ForestWatch, Montana Environmental Information Center, National Parks Conservation Association, New Mexico Sportsmen, Oil & Gas Accountability Project- Earthworks, Peach Bottom Concerned Citizens Group, People's Oil & Gas Collaborative - Ohio, San Juan Citizens Alliance, Sierra Club Rocky Mountain Chapter, Upper Green River Alliance, Western Colorado Congress, Western Colorado Congress of Mesa County, Western Organization of Resource Councils, Western Resource Advocates, Western Slope Conservation Center, The Wilderness Society, Wilderness Workshop and 350 Colorado.
Visit EcoWatch’s FRACKING page for more related news on this topic.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
'We Need People's Bailout, Not Polluters' Bailout': Climate Groups Move to Preempt Big Oil Giveaway Amid Pandemic
By Andrea Germanos
A coalition of climate organizations strongly criticized President Donald Trump's in-person Friday meeting with the chief executives of some of the biggest fossil fuel companies in the world, saying the industry that fueled climate disaster must not be allowed to profiteer from government giveaways by getting bailout funds or preferred treatment during the coronavirus pandemic.
An Important Note
No supplement, diet, or lifestyle modification — aside from social distancing and practicing proper hygiene — can protect you from developing COVID-19.
The strategies outlined below may boost your immune health, but they don't protect specifically against COVID-19.
By Zak Smith
It is pretty amazing that in this moment when the COVID-19 outbreak has much of the country holed up in their homes binging Netflix, the most watched show in America over the last few weeks has been focused on wildlife trade — which scientists believe is the source of the COVID-19 pandemic. Make no mistake: Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness is about wildlife trade and other aspects of wildlife exploitation, just as surely as the appearance of Ebola, SARS, MERS, avian flu and probably COVID-19 in humans is a result of wildlife exploitation. As a conservationist, this is one of the things I've been thinking about while watching Tiger King. Here are five more:
By Hector Chapa
With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.
But can these masks be effective?
By Carey Gillam
Bayer AG is reneging on negotiated settlements with several U.S. law firms representing thousands of plaintiffs who claim exposure to Monsanto's Roundup herbicides caused them to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma, sources involved in the litigation said on Friday.