Why is Ken Salazar hiding memo on new monuments, wilderness areas? 

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar was asked in a Feb. 26, 2010, letter from Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop, R-UT, and other representatives from western states for the missing pages from a leaked government memo that “contained detailed information about the administration’s plans to designate as many as 14 new national monuments and lock up as much as 13 million acres in states throughout the West.”

Bishop and his colleagues asked Salazar to provide the missing pages by March 26, or a month after their letter went to the Interior chief.  More than two months later and Bishop has received exactly nothing from Salazar in response to the February 26 request.

Joining Bishop in making the request of Salazar were Rep. Doc Hastings, R-WA, the ranking GOP member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and 14 other members of the Western Caucus.

The congressmen have seven pages from the memo, including pages 15 – 21, which list the 14 potential new monuments and costs associated with the project, but the members have no way of knowing what else was in the memo or how many pages it totalled.

“Since the President and his Cabinet have routinely stated that transparency is among the administration’s highest priorities, fulfilling this document request should have been no problem. In fact, the president has gone so far as to call transparency the ‘touchstone’ of his presidency. With the DOI’s latest failure to complete this document request, I would hardly say Secretary Salazar is living up to the president’s standards,” said Bishop.

“The DOI must be forthcoming with the information we have requested, and if there is nothing to hide as they claim, then why the delay? Sadly, this is what we have come to expect from the DOI, and frankly, the American people deserve better.”

Salazar was asked about the leaked memo during a recent Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing and responded only by saying “there’s no hidden agenda on the part of my department.”

That elicited the obvious response from Bishop, who now asks  “if there is no hidden agenda then why do these documents, which are public information, remain under lock and key? Unfortunately for Secretary Salazar, this is where the rubber meets the road, and once again, his rhetoric fails to match reality.”

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