BLM released five sets of documents, but withheld 361 full or partial pages
The Glenwood Springs Citizens’ Alliance is challenging the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s refusal to release documents related to Rocky Mountain Industrials and the RMI limestone quarry.
GSCA filed the formal administrative appeal to the U.S. Department of Interior’s Office of the Solicitor in Washington, D.C., on May 21.
The appeal comes nearly two years after the Citizens’ Alliance first filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to the BLM Colorado State Office for all documents and records involving RMI and the Mid-Continent limestone quarry.
GSCA filed that initial FOIA request to BLM on June 12, 2018. After six months passed with no response, GSCA sent a letter to BLM on Dec. 6, 2018, reiterating the request.
In response, BLM provided a tranche of documents on Dec. 10, 2018. BLM sent additional tranches on Feb. 1, June 13, July 8, and Sept. 5, 2019, followed by what it called a final installment on Feb. 24, 2020.
In sending the final installment, BLM noted that it was withholding 361 partial or full pages of documents, saying these pages are exempted by the FOI Act’s general rule of disclosure.
The Citizens’ Alliance appeal calls on BLM and the Department of Interior to provide an index that identifies each of the withheld documents and explains why each document is exempt from being released.
For example, BLM provided some of RMI’s monthly sales receipts, listing customer purchases by types and weight of rock material. But receipts from many months remain missing.
Also missing are documents about RMI operations and its mine expansion proposal to and from officials in the BLM national office and the Department of Interior in Washington, D.C.
Documents that have been received through the FOIA request form the basis for the Citizens’ Alliance lawsuit against BLM. The lawsuit argues that BLM has been allowing RMI to mine limestone from public lands for uses that are not allowed under its current operating permit.