Court says federal agency did not improperly withhold records from environmental group

Colorado Politics: The Bureau of Land Management did not withhold government records in violation of the Freedom of Information Act, a federal judge in Colorado ruled in response to an environmental protection group’s complaint.

“Based on the totality of the facts of this case, the Court concludes that BLM acted in good faith and expended extensive efforts to comply with Rocky Mountain Wild’s FOIA request and the Court’s directive,” wrote U.S. District Judge William J. Martínez in a Dec. 30 order. “Rocky Mountain Wild has not produced evidence contradicting the adequacy of BLM’s search or evidence of BLM’s bad faith. Thus, the Court finds that BLM’s search, which was reasonable in scope and intensity, complies with its FOIA obligations.”

Rocky Mountain Wild, based in Denver, submitted a FOIA request to the BLM in October 2017, seeking information about planned oil and gas leases in Gunnison sage-grouse territory. The group contended that the lease of public lands was adjacent to the habitat of the birds who are designated as endangered. There are only an estimated 5,000 breeding Gunnison sage-grouse remaining in southwestern Colorado and Utah.

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