Quantcast

BLM Fails to Comply with Court Order, Refuses to Change Transparency Policy

Energy

Citizens for a Healthy Community

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.

Public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management are intertwined with private lands in Western Colorado's North Fork Valley. Thousands of acres of public lands, some seen here surrounding the small town of Crawford, CO, had been proposed for oil and gas leasing but have since been deferred by the BLM Colorado State Office. Photo credit: Rita H. Clagett via Ecoflight

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.

——–

Sign the petition today, telling President Obama to enact an immediate fracking moratorium:

 

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pixabay

By Claire L. Jarvis

A ruckus over biofuels has been brewing in Iowa.

Read More Show Less
Serena and Venus Williams have been known to follow a vegan diet. Edwin Martinez / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Whitney E. Akers

  • "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.

  • Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.

  • We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.

Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
An illegally trafficked tiger skull and pelt. Ryan Moehring / USFWS

By John R. Platt

When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be both good and bad.

On one hand, it helps your body defend itself from infection and injury. On the other hand, chronic inflammation can lead to weight gain and disease.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less