Western Values Project Statement on Newly Exposed Interior Bias In Monuments Review

In a breaking news story, the Washington Post is reporting that after the Interior Department accidentally released thousands of pages in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that were supposed to be redacted, the revealed documents show that as Secretary Ryan Zinke conducted his national monuments review, his staff “rejected material that would justify keeping protections in place” and instead looked for evidence that supported rolling back public lands protections.The monuments review resulted in the largest public lands protections rollback in U.S. history.

Statement by Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger on revealed national monuments documents:

“This confirms many suspicions Western Values Project has had over the sham monuments review process and the reliability of the public documents released from Secretary Zinke’s Interior. While the Secretary promised under oath that this would be the ‘most transparent Interior in his lifetime,’ it’s been just the opposite: his tenure at Interior has been filled with closed door meetings, secrecy and keeping the public in the dark. This revelation raises serious questions about every decision done during Secretary Zinke’s tenure and what has been redacted in previous public document releases.”


View Secretary Zinke’s statement on transparency here.

Redacted: Zinke and Team Still Have a Ways To Go Before “Full Transparency”

Six of Interior’s most recent troubling instances of lacking transparency:

  1. Interior Press refused to discuss why the Whitefish Energy CEO was emailing Secretary Zinke after Hurricane Maria.
  2. Interior leadership makes agencies hold on fulfilling public records requests until Secretary Zinke’s spokespeople give their approval. Interior is currently being sued over this practice.
  3. Secretary Zinke redacted the meeting he had in his office with Halliburton private developers from his public calendar. Interior’s office of the Inspector General is now reviewing the potential for an investigation into Secretary Zinke’s involvement in the land deal.
  4. GAO can’t determine whether or not Secretary Zinke broke the law in his calls to Alaska Senators because Interior refused to provide adequate information.
  5. Interior is making false claims about how long political appointees have been employed there.
  6. Zinke flashed his MAGA socks, violating the Hatch Act.

Read details here.

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