Greens sue Trump for national monument documents

Greens sue Trump for national monument documents
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A coalition of environmental groups is suing the Trump administration to try to obtain Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law Judge boots Green Party from Montana ballot in boost to Tester Office of Special Counsel looking into Zinke's 'MAGA' socks MORE’s recommendations for which national monuments to shrink.

The greens, led by Earthjustice, accuse the Interior Department, its Bureau of Land Management and the White House Council on Environmental Quality of breaking the law by missing a key deadline to respond to their Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for the recommendations.

Zinke sent Trump the recommendations in August. But thus far, the administration has declined to release Zinke’s document or otherwise say what is in it, leading to the groups' FOIA requests.

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The environmental groups oppose any efforts to eliminate or shrink national monuments.

“National monuments preserve America’s historical heritage, stunning wilderness, geologic wonders, and priceless cultural sites — and they’re meant to be protected for future generations under the Antiquities Act. But the Trump administration wants to pretend that the laws of the land have changed,” Yvonne Yuting Chi, an attorney with Earthjustice, said in a late Thursday statement.

“The American people have the right to know the fate of these magnificent places that belong to all of us, and we are taking these agencies to court to get answers,” she said.

Zinke said in August that he did not ask President Trump to eliminate any monuments completely.

Trump told Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP moderates hint at smooth confirmation ahead for Kavanaugh GOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Yale Law School students, alumni denounce Trump Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Utah) last week that he plans to reduce the size of the Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

Both protected areas are massive and opposed by Utah leaders. Former President Obama created Bears Ears in his last months in office and former President Clinton created Grand Staircase-Escalante.

The Washington Post obtained what it said was Zinke’s recommendations in September.

In that document, Zinke recommended shrinking the Utah monuments, Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou and Nevada’s Gold Butte, and changing management practices in numerous other monuments, such as allowing logging.

Environmentalists and some legal experts argue that Trump cannot reduce the size of any national monument because the Antiquities Act does not specifically give him that power.