Western Values Project (WVP) formally requested an extension of the public comment period for the Bureau of Land Management’s proposed changes to sage grouse management plans in 11 states. The public comment period is set to expire tomorrow, Friday, December 1st. The request comes after the department failed to release public documents related to its planning process.
See the request for an additional scoping period here.
“The public has a right to review all of the documents related to this process, and the Interior Department has a legal responsibility make them available,” said Chris Saeger, executive director of the Western Values Project. “It has already been shown that the majority of the recommended changes were written by oil and as lobbyists, but the failure of BLM to release additional information begs the question, what else are they hiding?”
WVP filled a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and opened an investigation after an analysis found Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s hand-picked sage grouse review team adopted 13 of the 15 recommendations made by a group of oil and gas lobbyists. The FOIA seeks communication between Interior officials, Western Energy Alliance (the oil and gas lobbyists behind the recommendations) and state-based petroleum groups.
The original FOIA was filed over three months ago prompting WVP to file a complaint in district court last month. The Department of Interior responded without providing the public documents.
Western governors have been highly critical of the proposed amendments as have many stakeholders who worked cooperatively to develop the plans over nearly a decade. Now Secretary Zinke wants to throw these thoughtfully laid out plans just two years after they were implemented.