Freedom of Information Act Suit Over National Monument Records

On behalf of Friends of the Earth we filed a Freedom of Information Act case in federal district court in D.C. to compel the Department of Interior to release records concerning DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recent recommendation that President Trump reduce the size of several national monuments in the West.  In September, Secretary Zinke provided Trump with a report recommending that the President reduce the size of several monuments, including Bears Ears in southeastern Utah, the Grand Staircase-Escalante in southern Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada, and Cascade-Siskiyou in southern Oregon, and possibly two additional pacific ocean marine monuments—the Pacific Remote Islands and Rose Atoll.  Zinke’s report also recommended that Trump amend the national monument proclamations for ten additional monuments. If Trump accepts the recommendations, this could mean that these pristine public lands would for the first time be opened to extractive uses, including mining, grazing, logging, fishing, and other commercial uses. Friends of the Earth has for months been trying to obtain records that would shed light on the role of the extractive industries in these recommendations, including that of James Cason, the Associate Deputy Secretary for DOI, who has a long history of lobbying for and working on behalf of the oil, gas, coal, and mining industries.  Although FOE’s requests have been pending for months, DOI has failed to provide any substantive response to FOE.  The lawsuit seeks immediate release of the requested records. A copy of the Complaint can be found here.