Federal Agencies Sued Over Failure to Disclose Correspondence with Wind Industry

On behalf of the American Bird Conservancy (ABC), we sued the Fish and Wildlife Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs for failure to comply with mandatory deadlines under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

ABC filed six requests under FOIA – all of them more than eight months ago. ABC’s FOIA requests asked for the Fish and Wildlife Service’s correspondence with wind developers regarding birds and bats, as well as related information about wildlife impacts, such as studies showing which bird and bat species were in the area and how many had been killed by the facilities. The Fish and Wildlife Service subsequently referred one request to the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Under FOIA’s strict deadlines, the agencies were required to fulfill the requests or claim exemptions within 20 working days, and hence ABC has a right to seek judicial intervention.  The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

ABC’s FOIA requests were in regard to proposed and existing wind energy developments in Arizona, California, Florida, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Texas. Birds that could potentially be harmed include Bald and Golden Eagles, as well as birds that have been federally designated as threatened and endangered, such as Whooping Cranes, Northern Aplomado Falcons, Least Terns, Piping Plovers, Marbled Murrelets, Snail Kites, Wood Storks, and Northern Crested Caracaras.