A group of Republicans is calling on Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to release all documents and maps related to an internal study of potential national monuments in the West.
Last week Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington, the ranking member on the House Natural Resources Committee, and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, the ranking member on the committee's national parks subcommittee, released a handful of pages of that document that pointed to 17 landscapes from Colorado to Alaska that President Obama potentially could set aside as national monuments under the Antiquities Act.
At the time the two charged that the administration was not providing the transparency that the president had promised when he took office and that the internal review of such documents "deliberately prevents local citizens most affected by a designation from having an opportunity to be heard before lands where they live and work to support their families are closed to productive use. There is no legitimate reason that land use decisions cannot be made in an open matter that allows for public participation."
On Friday the two congressmen, along with a dozen colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary Salazar asking him to release additional documents related to the consideration of additional national monuments. Interior Department officials were reviewing the request.
“If this internal document had not been exposed, Americans would still be in the dark about the Obama Administration’s potential plans to lock up millions of acres of land across the West,” said Rep. Hastings. “While Secretary Salazar says that the discussions are just ‘preliminary,’ no assurances have been given that the President will not designate these monuments. When you catch someone in the kitchen in the dark of night with their hand in the cookie jar, it’s very hard to believe they’re just checking to see what’s inside and that no cookies were just about to get eaten. The communities and those workers whose jobs could be directly affected by the locking up of these lands deserve to see a full picture of what was happening inside their government. We’ve asked for copies of documents relating to the planning, which includes coordination with outside groups, and all of the missing pages from the document we uncovered last week.”
“Western communities and residents that stand to be affected by these proposed monument designations have the right to know what the Administration is planning with regards to the future of millions of acres of both public and private lands throughout the West,” added Rep. Bishop. “Despite the DOI’s statements that the initial documents are simply ‘drafts,’ the American people deserve to know the full extent of the planning as well as the involvement of all outside parties. If the DOI is confident that it is operating with the utmost transparency then they should have no problem providing these documents expeditiously. However, given the number of congressional document requests made to DOI this past year that remain unfulfilled, I am not holding my breath.”
The letter seeks the following information from Secretary Salazar:
1. All pages of the “Internal Draft” document of which Reps. Hastings and Bishop initially obtained only pages numbered 15 to 21.
2. With regard to the “brainstorming,” a copy of any documents distributed at or in preparation for the meetings, a list of all participants or invitees, any notes taken at the meeting (s), and any memoranda, work product or follow up documents from the meeting(s). All records, electronic or otherwise, of meetings or discussions with private groups, individuals or other persons or entities that are not employees of the Department of the Interior where potential National Monument designations were discussed. All notes, agendas, memoranda or documents from those meetings.
3. All documents related to the Secretary’s initiative to compile a list of potential National Monument designations since July 1, 2009, including, but not limited to, maps.
4. Any communication with any person or entity outside of the Department of the Interior related to the Secretary’s initiative since July 1, 2009.
The letter was signed by the following Members:
Congressman Doc Hastings (WA-04)
Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01)
Congressman Tom McClintock (CA-04)
Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (WY)
Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05)
Congressman Wally Herger (CA-02)
Congressman Don Young (AK)
Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03)
Congressman Dean Heller (NV-02)
Congressman Pete Sessions (TX-32)
Congressman Greg Walden (OR-02)
Congressman Scott Garrett (NJ-05)
Congressman Jeff Flake (AZ-06)
Congressman John Campbell (CA-48)
Congressman Denny Rehberg (MT)
Congressman Mike Simpson (ID-02)