Our Transparency Blitz is going strong this month as we sustain our push back against the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s attacks on the Freedom of Information Act and our democracy.
Our goal? Shine an ever-brighter spotlight on the agency’s operations and activities.
What records are we seeking? Mainly, records related to the agency’s management of fossil fuels, including publicly owned coal and oil and gas in the American West.
However, more broadly, we’re after any information that helps us better understand whether and to what extent the agency is colluding with the coal and oil and gas industry to push more mining and fracking, and to what extent the agency is working to exclude Americans from the management of their lands and minerals.
Whether it’s in relation to on-the-ground plans to mine or frack, or whether it’s in relation to internal conversations in Washington, D.C., we’re seeking those records so we can make them available to the public.
We started on October 5, 2017 by filing five requests with the Bureau of Land Management. Since then, we’ve kept up the pace, calling on the agency to release to the American public myriad records related to the management of public lands and resources. Most recently, we’ve filed the following request for records:
- An October 17 request for records related to the BLM’s changes to the availability of public drilling permit data on the Automated Fluid Minerals Support System website.
- An October 18 request to the BLM Colorado State Office for records related to their planned December 2017 oil and gas lease sale.
- An October 19 request ford records related to the appearance and presentation by Interior Department official, Kathleen MacGregor, at the Grand Junction Petroleum and Mining Council meeting scheduled for November 16, 2017.
- An October 20 request for records related to the BNI Coal federal coal lease application to expand the Center coal mine in North Dakota.
- An October 21 request for GIS data related to the BLM Nevada State Office’s proposal to auction public lands for fracking in March 2018.
- An October 22 request for communication records for Timothy Spisak, Acting Assistant BLM Director for Energy, Minerals, and Realty.
- An October 23 request for communication records for Kristin Bail, Assistant BLM Director for Resources and Planning.
- An October 24 request for records related to the BLM Wyoming State Office’s planned December 2017 oil and gas lease sale.
- An October 25 request for records related to a royalty rate reduction approved by the BLM for Arch Coal’s West Elk coal mine in western Colorado.
Stay tuned for more. And as always, stay tuned for the responses to these Freedom of Information Act requests. All data obtained by WildEarth Guardians’ Climate and Energy Program is posted on our Freedom of Information Act repository page.
There, the public has access to all the records we obtain. In most cases, this is the sole online source of this information.
For example, we just received records related to pending federal coal leases in the BLM’s Colorado State Office and also received records related to the BLM’s decision to withdraw oil and gas lease parcels in Grand County, Colorado from a June 2017 lease sale.
While the Bureau of Land Management may view this push for transparency as a problem, we view it as critical for countering government secrecy and promoting democracy. The last thing we, as Americans, should tolerate is a government that believes inquiry is problematic. If anything, it’s patriotic and that’s exactly why we’re going to maintain course and keep our Transparency Blitz in full force.