Government accountability watchdog Western Values Project (WVP) today filed suit in federal court to force the release of documents from the Obama administration’s deliberations over the Bears Ears National Monument, among others.
At President Trump’s direction, the Department of the Interior is considering reversing Bears Ears and other monument declarations, based in part on the false claim that the Obama administration failed to gather public input. The Trump administration has so far refused to respond to WVP’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request for documents that would prove or disprove this allegation.
Meanwhile, it appears that Secretary Zinke’s ‘review’ of monuments was over before it started. Numerous reports
indicate that Secretary Zinke has already decided to reduce or rescind the Bears Ears monument in Utah – well before the conclusion of the public comment period, which ends later this week.
“Secretary Zinke and the Trump administration have done everything they can to shut the public out of their sham review, but we’re not going to let them get away with withholding basic information that they are required by law to disclose,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project.
WVP made the FOIA request on January 19, 2017, asking the Department of the Interior for “scientific studies, scientific data, agency studies, agency management plans, maps, photos, references, testimony, public comments, Congressional input, legal analysis, or other such information used to develop the monument designations since January 1, 2014.” The request covered the following monument declarations:
1.) Bears Ears National Monument (Utah)
2.) Gold Butte National Monument (Nevada)
3.) Browns Canyon National Monument (Colorado)
4.) Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument (Maine)
5.) Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (Oregon/Washington)