Several environmental groups have sued the Trump administration over its review of more than two dozen national monuments. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, the lawsuit alleges officials are illegally withholding details about the process.
The Wilderness Society, Grand Canyon Trust, and others say the administration hasn’t yet responded to seven Freedom of Information Act requests made throughout this year. They claim U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke primarily used input from opponents of national monuments during his review, while limiting contact with conservationists and tribes.
Tim Peterson is the Utah Wildlands Program Director with the Grand Canyon Trust.
"The lawsuit is really all about transparency. It’s about determining who the secretary met with, who he consulted with on these recommendations. The American public deserves to see how decisions affecting us and our public lands are being made," says Peterson.
Zinke in August recommended President Trump shrink both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalate national monuments in southern Utah. It could open the areas to oil and gas leasing, coal mining and other energy production.
A five-tribe coalition including the Navajo Nation and Hopi are fighting to keep the protections. They consider Bears Ears a culturally significant ancestral area.
The Interior and Justice departments both declined to comment on the lawsuit.