UPDATE: Here we go on our transparency bender, our sixth Freedom of Information Act request to the Bureau of Land Management on this October 6, 2017, this one for records related to the so-called “backlog” of drilling permits in New Mexico. Stay tuned for at least 24 more Freedom of Information Act requests over the next 24 days!
While it’s disturbing that under President Tump, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is taking aim at environmental safeguards, what’s even more disturbing is their attacks on the Freedom of Information Act.
As the Washington Post reported today, the Bureau of Land Management is apparently working with anti-public lands activists to “limit the number of Freedom of Information Act requests” the public can file in order to gain more information about the operations and activities of the agency.
This is nothing short of a complete declaration of war on transparency and our democracy by President Trump and his Interior Secretary, Ryan Zinke. As I tweeted:
Let me put this into perspective. Under federal law, citizens and public interest organizations have the RIGHT to request records that are in possession of the federal government. This right was established to ensure that the federal government would be subject to intense scrutiny by its citizens and to ensure maximum transparency around government operations and activities.
That the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would suggest Americans limit their Freedom of Information Act requests is pretty much dictatorial. And it’s another sign that President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke, have no interest at all in serving the public interest.
That’s why WildEarth Guardians is pushing back. We’re doing so by kicking our transparency efforts into an even higher gear. For the month of October 2017, we intend to file a request for records under the Freedom of Information Act every day of the month to the Bureau of Land Management. We’ve started today, this October 5, by filing five requests for records under the Freedom of Information Act to the Bureau of Land Management, including:
- A request for records related to the September 21, 2017 conference with state and local governments where the Bureau of Land Management expressed its intent to limit requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
- A request for records related to Bureau of Land Management efforts to rollback implementation of the Freedom of Information Act.
- A request for all communication records from the Bureau of Land Management’s state and local government liaison.
- A request for records related to the Bureau of Land Management’s sale of oil and gas leases in Utah in September.
- A request for records related to Bureau of Land Management coal lease reviews in Montana.
Transparency is not the problem. The real problem is the Bureau of Land Management’s belief that the American public should be excluded from the management of their public lands and minerals.
Stay tuned for more as we kick our transparency push into high gear and keep the pressure on the Bureau of Land Management to defend the interests of the American public, not the fossil fuel industry.