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Publication date: May 18, 2005


A federal appeals court unanimously dismissed a lawsuit seeking documents from Vice President Dick Cheney's 2001 energy task force May 10, 2005. The ruling brought an end to a case, once before the Supreme Court, which pitted freedom of information against executive privilege.

The key issue decided by the court was whether industry lobbyists who met with the committee and advised it should be considered "members." The court ruled that they were not members since they did not vote formally. The Federal Advisory Committees Act (FACA) requires disclosure of documents and proceedings only when such committees include non-governmental "members."

Even without the disputed documents, the basic outline of what happened on the Cheney task force is well documented. Oil, gas, nuclear, coal, and utility representatives had extensive access to makers of the Bush administration's energy policies and have largely been happy with them. Consumer and ratepayer groups, environmentalists, and taxpayer groups had far less access to the task force and have generally opposed Bush energy policies.

The 8-0 decision by the US Court of Appeals for DC comes as Congress starts another effort to pass the energy bill which evolved out of the Cheney task force - and as the administration continues to shift action toward drilling and away from environmental protection.

Last revised January 22, 2013

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