Cheney Energy Task Force Details Remain Hidden
May 1, 2005
On May 10, 2005, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed the Sierra Club's lawsuit, permitting the government to keep hiding the details of industry participation in the formulation of its Energy Plan. Despite a report from the General Accounting Office concluding that the Task Force had created a variety of "working groups," "issue teams" and similar shadow entities, the D.C. Circuit accepted the government's contention that no such groups existed, and refused to permit the Sierra Club to investigate industry participation in those groups, or the Task Force. As the New York Times aptly editorialized in the wake of the decision, "The Bush administration hardly needs encouragement to deny public access to vital government information. Regrettably, encouragement came last week in the form of a federal appellate court ruling supporting the administration's refusal to divulge details about the role of energy industry lobbyists in drafting White House energy policy."
February 15, 2005
The latest round of the Cheney Energy Task Force legal saga unfolded in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday January 27, 2005. The D.C. Circuit took up the case after the Supreme Court sent the case down last summer for additional hearings. The latest hearing focused on the infamous "sub-groups" that participated in the Cheney Task Force. The Club's lawsuit asserts that these sub-groups were dominated by executives and lobbyists from the nuclear, oil and coal industries. The court appeared persuaded that the sub-groups present an important problem. A ruling is expected this Spring.
December 12, 2004
The Sierra Club is poised to go head-to-head with the Bush Administration yet again over the secrets of the Cheney Energy Task Force. On January 27, 2005 the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia will hear argument on how the Club’s lawsuit against Vice President Cheney should proceed in the wake of the Supreme Court’s opinion in the case in the fall of 2004. The Sierra Club will continue to push for open government and a transparent energy policy while the Bush administration will rehash its argument that it cannot be held accountable for conducting secret meetings with the energy industry.
June 24, 2004
The Supreme Court rejected the Bush Administration's efforts to close the door on the secret meetings of the Cheney Energy Task Force. The Court denied Vice President Cheney's request that the Sierra Club's case be dismissed. The Court also refused to endorse the Bush administration's legal arguments that the Vice President has absolutely no obligation to produce information relating to the secret meetings.
The Court agreed with the administration that the Vice President has a right to some review in the lower Court of Appeals, and sent the case back to the lower courts for further proceedings. The Sierra Club legal team is optimistic that the lower courts will eventually order the Bush administration to divulge its heavily guarded secrets, but it will take more time. "The good news is that the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush administration's extremist arguments and moved the case forward," stated Pat Gallagher, Director of Environmental Law for the Sierra Club. "The bad news is that the public will remain in the dark, probably for several more months, concerning the details of the secret Cheney Energy Task Force meetings. Unfortunately, during this time the Bush administration will continue to promote a polluting energy policy that will harm Americans' health and safety and the places they treasure," remarked Gallagher.
April 1, 2004
The Sierra Club first sued Vice President Cheney and the Energy Task Force under the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA) to shed light on how much influence polluting industries had over the destructive Bush-Cheney energy policy. On April 27th, two victories at the District and Appeals Courts later, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about whether the Bush administration can keep the public in the dark about the role of Big Industry in shaping our nation’s energy policy. The Court is expected to rule in June before the end of their current term.
March 11, 2004
On March 18, 2004, Justice Antonin Scalia issued an opinion rejecting the Sierra Club's request that he recuse himself from the Supreme Court case involving the secret Cheney Energy Task Force meetings. Justice Scalia misses the point. When Sierra Club made its motion last month, Justice Scalia had declined to reveal any of the facts about his duck hunting trip with Vice President Cheney revealed in his opinion, and in fact had mocked the issue in a speech to Amherst University. Meanwhile, the public was in an uproar over the appearance of impropriety created when a Justice and a litigant met at a private hunting retreat -- regardless of what happened behind closed doors. If Justice Scalia and Mr. Cheney had only been so forthcoming with the facts at the outset, the public might have responded differently and this might have taken a different course. We wish that Vice President Cheney would be as forthcoming with the details of the secret Energy Task Force as Justice Scalia has now been with their vacation together.
Court Of Public Opinion
by Richard Blow, TomPaine.com
In addition to defendant, Justice Scalia wants to be judge and jury in the case of his duck-hunting trip.
February 1, 2004
On February 23, 2004, the Sierra Club formally requested the recusal of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia from its case against Vice President Cheney and the secret Energy Task Force. Citing the intense public attention drawn to the January duck hunting trip taken by Cheney and Scalia, the Sierra Club reluctantly concluded that recusal is necessary to "redress an appearance of impropriety and to restore public confidence in the integrity of our nation's highest court."
January 1, 2004
On December 15, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to review the Bush administration's argument that it is entitled to keep secrets about how national energy policy was developed with the influence of polluting industries. The high court's decision could finally end the Bush Administration's delaying tactics and draw attention yet again to their efforts to keep the public in the dark about the influence of industry on energy policy. In July, a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals in Washington D.C. concluded that the Bush administration must comply with requests for information from Sierra Club and Judicial Watch about the Cheney Energy Task Force. The Club sued the administration to shed light on how much influence polluting industries had over the destructive energy policy that is the basis for the controversial energy bill. The case is expected to go to hearing in late April of 2004.
October 1, 2003
In September, the U.S. Court of Appeals denied the Department of Justice’s Petition for Rehearing En Banc, upholding its decision to send the case back to the trial court for discovery of the “secret” meetings and documents. However, Cheney and his Department of Justice were not satisfied, and have since gone to the Supreme Court in yet another attempt to prevent the public from finding out about the Energy Task Force. We expect to hear whether the Supreme Court has accepted the case by the end of the year.
August 1, 2003
In April, Sierra Club attorney Sanjay Narayan appeared in front of the D.C. Circuit’s Court of Appeals to argue for the public’s right to know about Vice President Dick Cheney’s Energy Task Force. The Club’s argument challenges the government’s position that the ongoing district court lawsuit would be an unconstitutional intrusion on the executive branch of the president; in particular, it challenges their position that the conduct of the Vice President and other White House officials is immune from judicial review. In the summer of 2003, we learned that the federal appeals court rejected the Cheney defendants’ argument, ruling that the case should proceed in the trial court.
May 1, 2003
This prominent Sierra Club suit has kept public and press attention focused on the Administration’s penchant for secrecy and closed-door policymaking. Vice President Cheney chaired an energy task force which met early and often with CEOs from Big Oil, Big Coal, and other energy industries. Our suit, based on a government sunshine law from the Watergate era, seeks Administration disclosure of the role those corporate chieftains had in crafting our nation’s energy policy. The federal trial judge has consistently ruled against the Vice President, but government lawyers have refused to comply with those orders. The case is now on emergency appeal to the federal appeals court in D.C. and could likely end up at the Supreme Court.
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