A lawsuit to Remove Secrecy from Oil and Gas Leasing, Release Names of Nominating Parties for August 2012 BLM Lease Sale Parcels
Today, Citizens for a Healthy Community and the Western Environmental Law Center (WELC) filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado to force the government to reveal the names of the individuals or corporations that nominated 30,000 acres of public lands in Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas drilling.
The nominated parcels were included in the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) August 2012 oil and gas lease sale; however, due to overwhelming public opposition spearheaded by Citizens for a Healthy Community and WELC, BLM announced in May that it would defer the lease sale.
In December 2011, in an effort to learn more about the potential impacts of the proposed drilling surrounding their community,
Citizens for a Healthy Community and WELC requested from the Department of Interior (“Department”) the names of the corporations that had nominated these lands for drilling, as they were likely to be the companies that would ultimately be drilling and fracking in our rural, agricultural community. The Department refused to reveal their identity, which led to today’s lawsuit.
The case, filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), aims not only to reveal the identity of the persons or entities that nominated pubic lands for inclusion in the North Fork lease sale, but also to put an end to BLM’s general policy and practice of keeping the nominators’ identity secret until after a lease sale takes place.
The public has a right to know which companies are nominating our public lands for oil and gas development. This is just another example of how the government bends over backward to protect the interests of an industry with deep pockets instead of the interests of the public.
By hiding the identity of the nominating corporations, the Department is prioritizing private industry’s competitive advantage over a fully informed public, not to mention the Department’s own ability to maximize revenue generated from the sale of our public resources!
The people of the North Fork Valley have been put through undue burden and harm already, when the public lands surrounding our communities were nominated for industrial scale oil and gas development, citizens have a right to know who is responsible.
The complaint can be found at: http://www.westernlaw.org/sites/default/files/complaint.ecf_.pdf