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Administration Snubs Lawsuit Seeking Facts On Secret Energy Task Force

WASHINGTON (January 24, 2002) -- The Bush administration today rebuffed a lawsuit by NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) seeking the list of companies, individuals and other outside groups that helped develop the White House energy policy. Besides admitting to congressional investigators that Vice President Cheney's energy task force had six meetings with Enron, the administration refuses to reveal who else had a hand in shaping the energy plan.

The Cheney task force drafted the administration policy proposing massive subsidies to oil, coal and nuclear power companies, and extensive regulatory changes that would benefit them.

"The American people have a right to know who is making our energy policy," said NRDC attorney Sharon Buccino. "The government's continued refusal to answer the question can't help but raise the question: What are they hiding?"

In a cryptic legal statement, the Department of Energy (DOE) denied that its officials have refused to disclose names of outside interests working with the task force -- while at the same time refusing to provide that very information. DOE was a lead federal agency working with the energy task force.

The agency did not claim executive privilege in response to the lawsuit. In fact, it specified no legal justification for withholding the information. NRDC will ask the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to force DOE to release the information.

"The administration is bending over backward to avoid providing even the most basic facts on the big energy companies and other special interests that might have influenced these highly controversial policies," said Buccino.

The NRDC lawsuit was filed in December, after DOE ignored the environmental group's Freedom of Information Act requests for eight months. NRDC requested information on who met with senior DOE officials working on the task force, and asked for any documents provided by these outside interests. The action is separate from a similar request by the U.S. General Accounting Office.

NRDC is represented by the Washington, D.C. law firm of Meyer and Glitzenstein.

The Natural Resources Defense Council is a national, non-profit organization of scientists, lawyers and environmental specialists dedicated to protecting public health and the environment. Founded in 1970, NRDC has more than 500,000 members nationwide, served from offices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Related NRDC Pages
12/12/01 Press Release "NRDC Sues Department of Energy to Expose Cheney Task Force Secrets"
A Responsible Energy Policy for the 21st Century

Additional Downloadable Materials for the Press
Copy of the complaint in PDF format, 16k

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