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Rules Against Cheney Energy Task Force
David Willett, Sierra Club 5/23/2002
Washington, DC: Vice President Cheney and other Administration Officials were rebuffed by a Federal Court today, as Judge Emmet Sullivan rejected their request to dismiss lawsuits filed by the Sierra Club and Judicial watch challenging the Administration's attempts to keep Task Force meetings with energy industry executives secret.
The Sierra Club suit asserts that by refusing to tell the public about the influence energy industries had in crafting national energy policy, the Cheney Task Force violated the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA). The Sierra Club is asking the court to require Vice President Cheney and other defendants to disclose to the American people what went on behind closed doors in the creation of the national energy policy. The suit has been consolidated with a similar suit filed by Judicial Watch. The Federal District Court ruled today against the U.S. government's motions to dismiss both lawsuits.
"We welcome both the Judge's decision to move forward and his rejection of Vice President Cheney's argument for Executive Branch secrecy," said Carl Pope, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. "Americans deserve to know what happened behind those closed doors where the energy industry met with Administration officials, and the law requires it."
The Sierra Club filed this lawsuit after the Bush Administration refused to divulge how much influence big energy companies like Enron and oil and coal producers had in crafting the nation's energy policy, despite numerous requests from Congress and others.
"It's extremely unfortunate that it takes a lawsuit to learn how much influence polluting companies had over a policy affecting all Americans and generations to come. If the Administration had conducted their meetings in the light of day, we wouldn't need this lawsuit," continued Pope.
The energy policy that ultimately came out of the Administration relies on technologies that will pollute our air and water, destroy special places and fail to reduce our dependence on oil and coal. At the very least, the American people deserve an explanation of why the Administration chose this path rather than safer and cleaner technologies that would protect the environment and save consumers money at the same time.
The Judge ruled that the case will now move to the discovery phase where the Sierra Club and Judicial Watch will be allowed to review details about the participation of energy executives in the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force.
The Sierra Club is asking for a full accounting of what happened behind the closed doors of the Cheney Energy Task Force, including: who was in the room; what proposals did the energy industry executives and lobbyists make; what documents did the energy industry submit; and what Task Force documents did they review.
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