Lawsuit Targets Trump Administration's Refusal to Release National Monument Records - Zinke Records, Meeting Schedule Also Kept Secret
August 10, 2017 - PORTLAND, Ore.— The Center for Biological Diversity on Wednesday sued the Trump administration for refusing to release public records about its review of national monuments and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s emails and schedule.
For months, the Interior Department has failed to respond to the Center’s requests for Zinke’s communication records and schedule, as well as records concerning the agency’s national monuments review, violating deadlines established under the Freedom of Information Act.
“Zinke’s review of these national monuments has been a sham from the start – so it’s no wonder they’re keeping this process out of the public view,” said Meg Townsend, open government staff attorney with the Center. “Why would he hide his emails and his schedule unless he doesn’t want the public to know who he’s talking to? Zinke's deluded if he thinks his Roosevelt image squares with the Trump administration's sellout of our public heritage to oil, gas, mining and timber industries.”
Over the past century national monument designations have protected some of the country’s most iconic natural and cultural landmarks. About half of the nation’s national parks first received protection as national monuments, including Grand Canyon, Death Valley and Grand Teton national parks.
In May the Center requested all records referencing national monument designations, including emails and other correspondence, meeting minutes, presentations, memos, and any unpublished reports or studies. FOIA requests for Zinke’s records and scheduled meetings were submitted in April.
“Diminishing our natural heritage lands to benefit polluting industries is shameful and misguided,” Townsend said. “Keeping the decision-making process a secret makes it even worse. The public has a right to know how these decisions are being made and who’s influencing this administration.”
Documents released in response to the Center’s records requests will be made available to the public and the media.
Download original public-records requests here.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Source: Center for Biological Diversity