Scientific Data and Records to be Destroyed by DOI

Date: September 9th, 2018

Agency: DOI, Federal

Explanation: Government Censorship, Research Hindrance

Scientist: Other

On September 9, 2018, the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) had filed a “Request for Records Disposition Authority.” In the request, DOI seeks permission from NARA to destroy numerous documents and other records relating to four key program areas, namely:

  1. biological resources and marine conservation;
  2. energy and minerals;
  3. land use and planning; and
  4. water.

Many of the records document the findings of scientific research conducted or supported by DOI. Other records contains data that may be needed in, or useful for, future scientific research. For example, in the biological resources and marine conservation program area, DOI is seeking permission to destroy, among other things:

  • “Fish & Wildlife Surveys, Critical Habitat Designation, and Revocation Case Files,” which include “survey information, data, and summary reports of fish and wildlife numbers and locations that are used to produce publications and reports that track long term terms,” and other materials “supporting decisions to designate critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act.”
  • “Endangered Species Recovery Plan Files and Fish and Wildlife Data” Records, which include materials discussing “corrective measures, restoration activities, and recommendations for land acquisitions, management actions, and other cooperative efforts designed [by DOI] to enhance the status of a particular species under the Endangered Species Act.”
  • “Fish & Wildlife Coordination Act Reports and State Tagger Program Files,” which include “[a]ssessments and reports prepared for, and funded by state or other Federal agencies used to protect, rear, stock, and increase the supply of game and fur-bearing animals, as well as to study the effects of domestic sewage, trade wastes, and other polluting substances on wildlife.”

In the energy and minerals program area, DOI is seeking permission to destroy, among other things:

  • “Resource Analysis and Evaluation” Records, including reports of studies undertaken to assess the “potential quantities of undiscovered oil and gas resources . . . and other leasable minerals” on DOI administered land.
  • “Energy Application Case Files,” including materials detailing “approved lease applications for energy and mineral resources.”
  • “Accounting, Compliance, and Administrative Records,” including materials documenting energy and mineral resource exploration and production activities.

In the land use and planning program area, DOI is seeking permission to destroy, among other things:

  • “Land Title, Operations, and Realty” Records, which include materials “document[ing] conservation easements, land title status, land operations and realty, acquired real property and real property appraisal services, sale of small vegetative materials, and minor forest products.
  • “Short Term Land Use Activities and Wild Hose & Burro (WH&B) Operation Records,” which include materials “document[ing] the preparation of horses for private maintenance by adapters, shipment of horses, and agreements with prisons or other facilities for training of horses.”
  • “Planning and Wild Horse & Burro (WH&B) Adoptions,” which include materials “document[ing] applications that were rejected, unapproved, or withdrawn regarding grazing, right-of-way and withdrawals.”

In the water program area, DOI is seeking permission to destroy:

  • “Water Analysis and Water Use & Permitting” Records, which include materials detailing “water chemical and bacteria analyses, variances, and exceptions testing files for public, community, and non-community water systems.”
  • “Water Project Contracts, Engineering, and Water Quality” Records, which include “[r]esearch data related to structural engineering and analysis for the design and construction of water management facilities, features, or structures.”
  • “Non-Historic Water and Power Projects & Facilities” Records, which include “drawings and design data” for water and power projects and facilities.