White House sued for lack of transparency around its leasing program

White House sued for lack of transparency around its leasing program

The Council on Environmental Quality repeatedly ignored a FOIA request about its failure to address climate in its oil and gas leasing report

WASHINGTON – Today, Friends of the Earth filed litigation compelling the Biden administration to respond to its Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents related to the role that the White House played in watering down the Department of Interior’s leasing program report. 

The request targets the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ)’s role in the administration’s long-delayed report, issued last November, which failed to consider the disastrous climate change impacts of selling more public lands and waters to the oil and gas industry. The report fails to live up to the mandate in President Biden’s January 2021 executive order to “tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad.”

Friends of the Earth submitted its FOIA request to CEQ on January 11, 2022. The agency failed to respond to repeated requests for confirmation of receipt and status updates in clear violation of the legally mandated deadline of 20 days. Friends of the Earth, which is represented by the public interest law firm Eubanks & Associates, PLLC, intends to force the administration to fulfill its obligations toward open government and transparency.

Nicole Ghio, Senior Fossil Fuels Program Manager at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement:

Candidate Biden promised to be a climate leader and halt new oil and gas lease sales on public lands and waters, but President Biden broke that promise. We demand to know why his administration’s final fossil fuel leasing report failed to include climate impacts and bore little resemblance to the comprehensive review mandated by his own executive order.

Hallie Templeton, Legal Director at Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement: 

Open government is a central hallmark on which our democracy was built, and the very reason why laws like the Freedom of Information Act exist. It should not take a lawsuit for the White House to meet its legally mandated transparency obligations to disclose how and why climate change was stripped from Interior’s report on the leasing program.

Communications contact: Brittany Miller, (202) 222-0746, [email protected]

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