Crestone Eagle, December 2006:
Land Trust requests records from Fish
& Wildlife Service under the Freedom of Information Act re:
oil & gas exploration
by Kim Malville
On Friday November 17, the Crestone/Baca Land
Trust sent a request to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for all records
and information relating to proposed oil and gas exploration
or development on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge. We have
been assisted in this endeavor by the University of Denver
Environmental Law Clinic.
The CBLT is asking for copies of all correspondence between
Lexam Explorations and the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding
oil and gas exploration or development on the Baca National
Wildlife Refuge, any agreements between FWS and Lexam, or
any other document regarding the use of the Baca National
Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas exploration or development.
The CBLT is particularly interested in learning who made
the determination that standard procedures required under
NEPA were not needed and on what basis that determination
was made. “The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA)
requires federal agencies to integrate environmental values
into their decision making processes by considering the environmental
impacts of their proposed actions, and reasonable alternatives
to those actions.” In particular, we consider it highly
unusual that the proposed drilling on a National Wildlife
Refuge has apparently not required an environmental impact
statement (EIS) and a public hearing.
Our request to the FWS includes, but is not limited to, “all
memoranda, instruction memoranda, instruction bulletins, letters,
notes, complaints, reports, recommendations, opinions, field
research reports or notes, studies, minutes of meetings, faxes,
telephone records, electronic transmissions such as e-mail,
correspondence, or any tangible written or recorded instrument,
whether draft or final.”
Because the CBLT is a non-profit corporation with a tax-exempt
501(c)(3) status, we believe we should meet the requirements
for a fee waiver for all copying and mailing expenses.
The requested information will reveal the details of oil and
gas drilling on the Baca National Wildlife Refuge, which is
of great interest to the Crestone/Baca community. The documents
should allow CBLT and its attorneys to determine whether and
how FWS complied with the law regarding the proposed drilling
in the Refuge. Once this information is obtained, the Land
Trust will disclose the information to its members, and members
of other conservation organizations, and all interested members
of our community.
FOIA requires that the FWS reply to this request within twenty
business days of receipt.
to the Eagle!