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Desert Rock Opponents Hit an "Invisible Paper Wall"

April 7, 2008

Farmington, NM - Opponents of Desert Rock, a proposed coal-fired power plant, say the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is stonewalling them, and now they're taking the agency to court. Two citizens groups have asked a judge to force the agency to release records related to the draft of an environmental impact statement for the plant.

Brad Bartlett is with the Energy Minerals Law Center, which is representing the groups. He contends the BIA is violating the law by withholding the documents.

"Instead of giving us the records, we obtained pages and pages of heavily redacted records. The public has a right of access to these documents because these are agency records. The agency just can't act behind closed doors. The public has a right to know what's going on."

Bartlett believes the "blacked out" records are related to the proposed plant's land and water use. The complaint specifically requests full release of the water and land agreements between the Navajo Nation and the developer of the plant.

The BIA says it is unable to comment on pending litigation.

Eric Mack/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - NM