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Alliance v. United States Department of Interior

United States District Court, D. Colorado

September 29, 2014

SAN JUAN CITIZENS ALLIANCE, Plaintiff,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, an agency of the United States, UNITED STATES BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT, an agency within the United States Department of the Interior, Defendants.

ORDER ADOPTING RECOMMENDATIONS OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

ROBERT E. BLACKBURN, District Judge.

This matter is before me on the following: (1) the Motion To Intervene by Western Energy Alliance [#11][1] filed October 7, 2013; and (2) the related Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [#41] filed February 20, 2014. The proposed intervenor, Western Energy Alliance, filed objections [#43] and the defendants filed a response [#44]. I overrule the objections, approve and adopt the recommendation, and deny the motion to intervene.

As required by 28 U.S.C. ยง 636(b), I have reviewed de novo all portions of the recommendation to which the proposed intervenor objects. I have considered carefully the recommendation, the objections, the responses to objections, and the applicable case law.

This case is a challenge under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the decision of the Bureau of Land Management to withhold certain information in response to a FOIA request submitted by the plaintiff, the San Juan Citizens Alliance (SJCA). The SJCA sought documents known as expressions of interest (EOI) submitted to the BLM as part of a sale of oil and gas leases announced by the BLM. As part if its response to the FOIA request, the BLM released documents related to an EOI submitted by Mark A. O'Neal and Associates (O'Neal). Out of the 38 pages produced, one of these pages was O'Neal's cover e-mail introducing the EOI. O'Neal's client was copied via e-mail on the EOI, and the cover page included the e-mail address of O'Neal's client. Under Exemption 4 of the FOIA, the BLM redacted the e-mail address of O'Neal's client. That e-mail address is the only information at issue in this case.

Western Energy Alliance (WEA) seeks to intervene of right under FED. R. CIV. P. 25(a)(2) or, in the alternative, it seeks permissive intervention under Fed.R.Civ.P. 25(b)(2). WEA argues that this case, as a practical matter, will impair the ability of members of the alliance to protect their interests. The magistrate judge recommends that the motion to intervene be denied because resolution of this case, on a very focused issue, will not impair or impede the ability of alliance members to protect their interests. Addressing permissive intervention, the magistrate judge concludes that WEA does not have a claim which shares a common question of law or fact with the claims of the plaintiff in this action. After careful de novo review, I concur with the analysis of the magistrate judge.

THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED as follows:

1. That the Recommendation of United States Magistrate Judge [#41] filed February 20, 2014, is APPROVED and ADOPTED as an order of this court;

2. That the objections [#43] of Western Energy Alliance are OVERRULED; and

3. That the Motion To Intervene by Western Energy Alliance [#11] filed October 7, 2013, is DENIED.


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