SELC Sues for Information on Secret Public Lands Overhaul

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) is suing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for failing to release information about efforts to fundamentally reorganize federal agencies responsible for managing federal public lands, including the United States Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

“Federal public lands benefit local economies, promote clean water, and support wildlife, fisheries, wilderness, and recreation,” said Kym Hunter, Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “This administration’s efforts to keep the public in the dark as they leave the future of public lands in jeopardy is harmful and illegal.”

In March 2017, President Trump issued an executive order instructing each federal agency head to submit a report to OMB outlining proposed changes to their agency. Since then, many executive branch officials, including Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, have forecasted major reorganizations of the agencies responsible for managing public lands.

SELC filed a FOIA request for information related to these reports in November 2017. After initially acknowledging SELC’s request, OMB has failed to provide the requested information or respond to inquiries pertaining to the request. Today’s suit challenging OMB was filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.

SELC has previously filed a number of other FOIA requests with the Trump administration related to their ongoing efforts to undermine scientific research and limit environmental safeguards. Just last week, this resulted in the release of the Environmental Protection Agency’s correspondence with the Heartland Institute as part of Administrator Scott Pruitt’s possible “red team, blue team” review of climate science.  FOIA releases are available upon request.

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For more than 30 years, the Southern Environmental Law Center has used the power of the law to champion the environment of the Southeast. With over 70 attorneys and nine offices across the region, SELC is widely recognized as the Southeast’s foremost environmental organization and regional leader. SELC works on a full range of environmental issues to protect our natural resources and the health and well-being of all the people in our region. www.SouthernEnvironment.org

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