The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Trump administration over its alleged ties to the coal industry, asking for public records of meetings between U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) officials and coal industry executives.
CBD submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request in March to obtain information about meetings between BLM officials and coal industry lobbyists. The group says it filed suit Tuesday after BLM ignored its FOIA request.
“It’s deeply troubling to see the Trump administration opening the door to coal industry executives but shutting out the public when it comes to information about decisions that affect the health and future of all Americans,” Bill Snape, CBD’s senior counsel, said in a press statement.
CBD’s FOIA request was directed at Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, who revoked a moratorium issued by his Obama-appointed predecessor on most new coal-leasing activities on federal land.
“Ryan Zinke is rapidly turning the Department of the Interior into the most secretive agency in the federal government just so he can protect the special interests that are calling the shots,” Snape said. “The public has every right to know who Zinke and others are meeting with, especially when it comes to policies that will have disastrous consequences for our public lands and climate.”
BLM funding for coal management increased by $8 million in the agency’s latest budget request, even though BLM’s overall budget was reduced. The Department of the Interior’s budget justification states the increased funding will go towards implementing a more efficient system of leasing and permitting coal companies to develop federal land.
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