By Emily Flitter
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The Sierra Club and five other U.S. environmental groups sued a White House advisory council and the U.S. Interior Department, saying they were illegally withholding information about a review of public land designations, according to court papers.
In the lawsuit filed on Thursday, the groups asked the court to compel the Interior Department and the White House Council on Environmental Quality to provide documents on the department’s review of a group of national monuments, where industrial activities like mining and oil drilling are prohibited.
Interior put more than a dozen monuments under review earlier this year. Several news outlets reported the department had determined which of those it would shrink, but it has not released a formal report.
U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, pledged last week to reduce the size of two monuments in Utah, according to U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch.
Interior Department and White House officials referred questions about the lawsuit to the U.S. Justice Department. A Justice Department spokeswoman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The environmental groups, which also include the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Wilderness Society, said Interior and the White House council were not meeting appropriate deadlines under the Freedom of Information Act. That law requires government agencies to release their documents to the public upon request and lays out a timeline for doing so.
“By failing to provide the requested records, Defendants are actively impeding Plaintiffs’ access to government information and blocking Plaintiffs’ ability to carry out their organizational missions,” the lawsuit said.
(Reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)