In early 2010, Interior Department Assistant Secretary Sylvia Baca, the former oil company executive, candidly told the ranchers that they would have to sue her own agency to vindicate their claimed right to get rid of the horses.
This is the same Sylvia Baca
, a BP veteran, whose subsequent work for the Interior Department's
Minerals Management Service has worried environmentalists and others concerned about the oil and gas industry's influence on the agency required by law to oversee it.
The parties appear to disagree on precisely what Baca said, however, and there even is some room between versions offered by the ranchers.
Last year, when the lawsuit first was filed, the Grazing Association wrote in its complaint that Baca, then working for Interior on wild horse issues, "attributed the [BLM's] failure to comply [with horse removal requirements] with external influences on the Department and Congress, and the lack of funding due to the need to contract for sanctuaries.