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Wild Horse Freedom Federation finds out the truth about America’s wild horses & burros

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Source: Wild Horse Freedom Federation

   

Letter from USDA’s Forest Service informing us that they had no records of the Devil’s Garden wild horses for almost a 4 month period of time (Click on each page to enlarge or print)

by Debbie Coffey, V.P. & Dir. of Wild Horse Affairs, Wild Horse Freedom Federation

Wild Horse Freedom Federation has been working diligently, over many years, trying to find out the truth about what is happening to America’s wild horses & burros.

We currently have 9 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits filed for violations of FOIA law by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). More

Top Dem Puts Hold On Trump Interior Nominee, Requests DOJ Perjury Probe

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Source:  Huffington Post

Daniel Jorjani, the nominee to serve as the Interior Department’s top lawyer, appears before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 2.

Sen. Ron Wyden said Daniel Jorjani, who has been nominated to be the agency’s top lawyer, may have lied to Congress.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) on Wednesday announced that he has placed a hold on the nomination of Daniel Jorjani to serve as the Interior Department’s top lawyer, citing concerns that the political appointee possibly lied to lawmakers about his role in reviewing public information requests submitted to the agency.

Wyden also called on the Department of Justice to investigate whether Jorjani perjured himself during his May confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The Interior’s FOIA policy is already the subject of an inquiry by the department’s internal ethics watchdog, the Office of Inspector General, The New York Times reported last week.

“I believe Department documents made public through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) show Mr. Jorjani may have knowingly misled members of the Committee about the Department’s adherence to laws meant to ensure transparency and accountability in government,” Wyden wrote Tuesday in a letter to the acting head of the DOJ’s public integrity division.

Jorjani, a former adviser for fossil fuel moguls Charles and David Koch, has served as Interior’s principal deputy solicitor since May 2017. Late last year, then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed an order that put Jorjani in charge of overseeing the agency’s FOIA program. The move stripped transparency authority from the agency’s chief information officer and handed it over to a political appointee who once told colleagues that “at the end of the day, our job is to protect the Secretary” from ethics probes and bad press. READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE HERE.

Op-Ed: Pushing the BLM out of Washington puts our public lands in peril

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Source:  Los Angeles Times

Amid Government Shutdown, Trump’s Interior Department Rolls Back Transparency

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Source:  Wildearthguardians.org

Rule Changes Meant to Stymie Public Interest Groups, Undermine Right to Know, Condone Government Secrecy

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UPDATE (12/28/2018):  Interior’s proposed rule was published in today’s Federal Register, you can access it here >>

Although Interior is asking for public comment until January 28, 2019, the agency is not actually capable of receiving and processing comments due to the government shutdown.

Despite a government shutdown, the U.S. Department of the Interior is proposing changes to its transparency regulations that threaten to make it more difficult for Americans to request and obtain records from the federal government.

In a proposed rule slated to be published tomorrow, Interior is calling for sweeping rule changes in order to, in its words, respond to “the unprecedented surge in FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] requests and litigation.”

Click here to view our annotated version of the most insidious provisions of the proposed rollbacks and how they completely undermine our federal transparency laws.

The proposal is a blatant attack on our democratic right to know.  The Freedom of Information Act is our nation’s bedrock transparency law and it’s meant to ensure Americans have the ability to know what their government is up to.

WildEarth Guardians uses the Freedom of Information Act extensively as we watchdog the Interior Department and other government agencies.  In fact, we post all records we obtain on our website so all Americans have access to information that would otherwise be unavailable.

It’s undeniable there has been a surge in Freedom of Information Act requests and litigation in response to the Trump Administration’s assault on transparency and the public interest.  In fact, the number of lawsuits filed under the Freedom of Information Act has hit record highs under Trump….

Yet Interior’s claim that this is a problem is belied by the fact that the Department utterly flouts the Freedom of Information Act and actively promotes a culture of secrecy, opaqueness, and unaccountability to the American public.

In our experience in dealing with the Interior Department under the Freedom of Information Act, we’ve found the agency regularly ignores deadlines, consistently finds ways to deny access to government records, purposefully drags its feet in responding to requests for information, and refuses to provide the resources and staffing needed to meet its legal obligations under federal transparency law.

To boot, among federal agencies, Interior is one of the worst in terms of making information available online.

It’s no wonder the Department gets sued. Yet rather than truly address the underlying lack of legal compliance and disrespect for transparency, Interior is instead proposing to change the rules.

Without a doubt, the proposed regulatory changes are an assault on transparency. Among the more insidious changes:

Currently, agencies have to honor all records requests, regardless of the amount of times and resources required to search for records. This reflects the fact that the Freedom of Information Act mandates full transparency and does not allow agencies to selectively censor information simply because they believe it would be “hard” to provide records.

This proposal would effectively condone footdragging and deny access to government information. The change would allow agencies to impose baseless “quotas” on information requests.

The Freedom of Information Act requires agencies provide records at no cost to organizations intending to use information to advance the public interest. Although the law requires fee waivers be granted liberally, Interior’s proposed changes would effectively turn the tables on public interest groups.

The new wording would set higher and nearly unattainable criteria, provide more discretion to deny fee waivers, and allow the Department to second-guess claims that information would serve a public interest.

For example, the proposal would allow Interior to deny fee waivers if it deems a request does not “concern discrete, identifiable agency activities, operations, or programs with a connection that is direct and clear, not remote or attenuated.”

This essentially lets the federal government deny fee waivers simply because it believes the requested information isn’t relevant.

Overall, the proposed rule aims to add more subjectivity into the Interior Department’s transparency regulations, clearly intending to give agencies more discretion to deny access to information and to deny fee waivers.

Overall, the changes appear to be blatantly contrary to the Freedom of Information Act. Click here to see our annotated version of the Department’s proposed rule with our comments on how it runs afoul of federal law.

Read the entire article HERE.

 

Debbie Coffey & Carol Walker of Wild Horse Freedom Federation detail Bureau of Land Management’s lack of transparency

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Join us this evening, December 6, 2018 at 7:00 pm CST!

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Opposition Builds To Interior Department Records Purge

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SOURCE:  dcreport.org

Group Says Documents Reveal Efforts to Kill Wild Horses, Land Grabs and Other Outrages

A nonprofit advocating for wild horses, one of the groups opposing a massive proposed document purge at Trump’s Interior Department, said record requests helped the nonprofit learn about a plan to send thousands of wild horses to a tiger refuge in Russia.

“These records are especially important for oversight now that large numbers of wild horses and burros are being ‘adopted’ in larger numbers, and to organizations and to overseas destinations,” wrote Debbie Coffey, vice president of the Wild Horse Freedom Federation. “We will need to access these records in order to ensure that wild horses and burros are not being adopted or sold and ending up in the slaughter pipeline.”

The Trump administration wants to bury science and hide how mining, drilling and logging on public lands devastate our precious natural spaces.

The proposed document purge includes records about endangered species, oil and gas leases, timber sales, dams and land purchases.

The National Archives has said that getting rid of records is standard and has been going on for decades. The schedule’s language gives broad authority to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to destroy records documenting government efforts to protect endangered species and public lands.

“The Trump administration wants to bury science and hide how mining, drilling and logging on public lands devastate our precious natural spaces,” said Meg Townsend, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity.

The federation learned from a document request that the Bureau of Land Management in 2011 under former President Barack Obama considered shipping wild horses to a sanctuary in Siberia where they could be killed and eaten by leopards and tigers.

“Would we pay for shipping to Vladivostok or allow horses to be placed on a sanctuary with known heavy predator population?” asked Karla Bird, an acting division chief.

BLM ultimately decided against sending our nation’s wild horses to Russia to be eaten by tigers.

But in 2017, the bureau again was looking at sending horses to Russia and also to Guyana in South America.

Under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act, passed by Congress in 1971 when Republican Richard Nixon was president, the federal government is supposed to manage and protect the herds. Almost 82,000  wild horses and burros roam our nation’s public lands. More than 50,000 others are corralled.

The Trump administration proposed euthanizing or selling “excess animals” in 2017, but Congress kept a ban on slaughtering the animals.

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ACTION BOX/What You Can Do About It

The comment period about the proposal to destroy Interior Department records has ended.

Contact Secretary Ryan Zinke about concerns about keeping records. Call him at 202-208-3100, reach out to him on FacebookTwitter or send an email.

Write: Department of the Interior / 1849 C St., NW / Washington, D.C. 20240

Wild Horse Freedom Foundation can be contacted online.

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You can read articles on dcreport.org HERE.

5th Anniversary of Wild Horse & Burro Radio show with many friends and past guests! (Wed., 11/7/18)

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