Today, the Western Values Project filed an expedited Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Department of the Interior seeking information on the monument review that was submitted to the White House. The Associated Press reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing “unspecified boundary adjustments” to a “handful” of monuments, but the Interior Department is refusing to release any further details.
The FOIA seeks expedited processing given the timely importance of sharing these materials with the public. If the FOIA is not fulfilled as requested, Western Values Project is prepared to take legal action.
Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project, had this to say about the secrecy surrounding Zinke’s recommendation:
“If Secretary Zinke wants to redraw the maps for millions of acres of public land, he should at least be transparent and honest with the Western communities who will be impacted by his actions. It is a farce for him to claim this review is about public input, while hiding the recommendation he’s made to President Trump on behalf of the American people. He is opening the door for special interests to run the show on Western public lands while leaving our communities in the dark. It’s clear that Secretary Zinke has sold out his Montana values and handed over the reins to lobbyists and Washington, D.C. insiders.”
The Associated Press also reported that Zinke would not say if his recommendations would open up lands for mining and drilling:
“Zinke declined to say whether portions of the monuments would be opened up to oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industries for which Trump has advocated.”