Transparency Delayed: Monument Docs Released

Aaron Flint posted on August 17, 2010 14:22 :: 1489 Views

According to a press release from Senator Jon Tester’s (D-MT) office, Tester has released more documents pertaining to the Obama Administration’s discussions concerning a new national monument here in Montana.   

The press release says the documents are being made public “in the name of transparency.”  This, after an initial batch of documents were first leaked last Spring showing plans to create a new national monument stretching from Fort Benton to Fort Peck, Montana.  Since that time, the House Western Caucus and Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) have been calling on the Obama Administration to release all the documents concering the monument discussions. 

Tester’s spokesman, Aaron Murphy, had this to say:

“Jon had an opportunity to read the whole draft memo after seeing it for the first time Friday and he’s pleased that it mentions the importance of public support and participation for future land planning.  This is in line with what Secretary Salazar told Jon directly—that any plans from the Interior Department need broad public support before moving forward.”

Nonetheless, as this latest news release was sent to the Montana press corps “in the name of transparency,” thousands of documents remain hidden from the public.  This latest document can be found in full on Tester’s website by clicking here.

Pay particular attention to the top of Page 5, which tells the Administration to use the Antiquities Act to create the monument, “should the legislative process not prove fruitful.

Here’s what Ron Poertner told The Great Falls Tribune:

“I think it’s great they are releasing some of the information,” said Ron Poertner, treasurer of the Winifred-based Missouri River Stewards, which is made up of landowners in the Missouri River Breaks National Monument. “We talk about open and transparent government but they were pretty slow in getting it out there.” 

Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) had this to say Tuesday afternoon:

“While I’m glad the Department of Interior has finally released these pages, I can certainly understand why they wanted to keep them a secret.  A single sentence acknowledging the benefit of public input won’t appease Montanans when the rest of the document lays out plans to circumvent that input if it doesn’t fall in line with the pre-constructed plans of unelected Washington bureaucrats.  The new pages make a disturbing case for bypassing Congress with a unilateral Presidential designation of National Monuments.  This was the worst-case scenario, and it’s no longer hypothetical.”

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