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What are they trying to hide?

While many of us were busy during the winter holiday, the Interior Department quietly published a proposed rule that would RESTRICT the release of public records under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), our nation’s most important transparency law. 

If this proposal goes into effect, the results could be DEVASTATING. President Trump’s Interior Department would be able to operate under an even wider cloak of secrecy than it did under former Secretary Ryan Zinke. Interior could give away favors and sweetheart deals to special interests and lobbyists, hurting public lands and wildlife — and it would be extremely difficult for the public to find out and hold Interior accountable.

At a time of unprecedented levels of corruption and special interest giveaways that are hurting our national parks and compromising our public lands, we need more transparency, not less.

What is Interior trying to hide? Will you take a minute to submit a comment and tell Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that you oppose any attempt by the department to restrict public records and transparency?

Even though the government is currently shut down, your comments will still be processed and heard. Here’s a sample comment you can use, but please feel free to customize it:

A robust Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) program is essential to transparency and public oversight. The proposed rule undermines the Interior Department’s FOIA program and may even violate federal law. Please reject this rule and leave the Interior Department’s FOIA program alone so that the public can monitor the agency’s actions that affect our public lands, national parks, and wildlife.

Western Values Project has submitted several FOIA requests ourselves in the past few years. As a result, we’ve exposed industry influence at Interior on everything from oil and gas corporations influencing Interior’s sage grouse review, to finding out Ryan Zinke was hiding secret meetings with big monied executives from the public. If the public, media and watchdog organizations like ours lose the ability to use FOIA, there’s no telling how much of the Trump administration’s malfeasance and corruption that is destructive to our public lands and wildlife would go unexposed!

The Freedom of Information Act is the most critical transparency tool to expose corruption and shine light on our government, and we need your help to ensure we continue to have access to it. Please, will you take a minute to submit a comment and tell Acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt that you’re opposed to the new FOIA rule?

 

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