11 Apr Judge Denies Attempt by Drilling Industry to Influence FOIA Case
April 11, 2013
Late yesterday U.S. District Court Senior Judge Richard P. Matsch denied an 11th hour attempt by Western Energy Alliance, an energy industry trade group, to intervene in an already decided lawsuit that will bring full transparency to the oil and gas leasing process. Judge Matsch ruled on February 13 that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) can no longer hold secret documents that will reveal who nominates public lands for drilling and fracking leases.
“The public has a right to know what corporations are looking to drill on our public lands,” explained Jim Ramey, director of the Delta County community group Citizens for a Healthy Community, which filed the lawsuit with the Western Environmental Law Center. “A fully transparent and open leasing process is the best way to manage oil and gas leasing on public lands.”
WELC attorney Kyle Tisdel added: “We are happy that Judge Matsch denied the oil and gas industry’s desperate attempt to intervene, and are hopeful that the BLM will put an end to its secretive policy protecting industry, comply with the Court’s ruling, and release this information to the public.”
The BLM recently filed for and was granted an extra 30 days to release the withheld information, in keeping with the government’s 60-day appeal deadline. As of now, the government has yet to announce whether or not it will appeal the Court’s February ruling, which concluded that the BLM broke the law when it concealed the identity of companies who nominated public lands for gas drilling leases. The government now has until Monday, April 15 to release the names of the parties that nominated controversial lands in Western Colorado’s North Fork Valley for oil and gas leasing, or to appeal the District Court’s decision.