EDF Sues Interior Department for Failure to Release Documents about BLM Waste Prevention Standards

May 10, 2018
Sharyn Stein, 202-572-3396, sstein@edf.org

(Washington, D.C. – May 10, 2018) The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sued the Department of the Interior today for failing to release documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

EDF filed FOIA requests for documents related to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s efforts to undermine the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Standards, common sense protections that have important benefits for western and tribal communities. The public comment period for Zinke’s proposal to suspend the standards started, and then ended, while these FOIA requests were still pending.

“BLM’s Waste Prevention Standards save valuable natural gas, reduce harmful air pollution, and provide economic benefits to communities across the West. Americans have a right to know about their government’s actions about the Waste Prevention Standards, and the Department of the Interior’s failure to release public documents deprives them of that right,” said Peter Zalzal, Lead Attorney for Environmental Defense Fund.

BLM’s Waste Prevention Standards require oil and gas companies operating on federal and tribal lands to take common sense measures to reduce preventable leaks of natural gas. Between 2009 and 2015, those companies wasted enough natural gas to supply more than 6.2 million homes for an entire year. The waste of natural gas on public and tribal lands costs taxpayers millions of dollars in royalties and allows large amounts of unhealthy pollution into our air – including methane, which is a potent driver of climate change.

In November, EDF filed FOIA requests for communications about the standards between the Department of the Interior and oil and gas companies and trade associations, among other documents. The deadline for responding to the FOIA requests has passed, but the Department of the Interior has not released any responsive records.

Today, EDF filed a lawsuit in federal court in the District of Columbia to secure the release of those documents. The Emmett Environmental Law and Policy Clinic at Harvard Law School is representing EDF in the case.

EDF is also defending the Waste Prevention Standards in cases before the U.S. District Court in Wyoming and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and is involved in litigation in the U.S. District Court in California over BLM’s unlawful decision to delay the standards.

You can find more information about litigation on the BLM Waste Prevention Standards – including all legal documents – on EDF’s website. You can also find more information about EDF’s FOIA requests on our website.

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