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Senior U.S. Department of Interior officials prepared last fall to eliminate the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the Atlantic coast — even as they had yet to agree on the public justifications for doing so, according to newly disclosed internal documents.
Interior last week accidentally released thousands of pages of unredacted internal emails in response to Freedom of Information Act requests.
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Copies - Emails - E - E - News
Copies of those emails, provided to E&E News by the Center for Western Priorities in Denver, Colorado, detail Interior's strategy — including a focus on timber harvesting, mineral rights, and oil and gas extraction — as it reviewed the boundaries of more than two dozen national monuments under an executive order from President Donald Trump.
The documents also disclose internal deliberations over the future of some marine monuments, including reintroducing commercial fishing to some sites and reducing the boundaries of others.
December - Interior - Secretary - Ryan - Zinke
In December, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released a public report advising Trump to authorize commercial fishing at three sites: Rose Atoll and the Pacific Remote Islands in the Pacific Ocean, and Northeast Canyons and Seamounts marine national monuments (Greenwire, Dec. 6, 2017).
"There is no explanation in the Proclamation as to why the objects are threatened by well-regulated commercial fishing," Zinke wrote, referring to President Barack Obama's proclamation establishing the 3.14-million-acre Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument in 2016.
Documents - Interior - Officials - Proclamations - Monument
But newly disclosed documents reveal senior Interior officials had drafted presidential proclamations to eliminate the marine monument, which has been the subject of criticism and a federal lawsuit from the fishing industry.
In a 22 August 2017 email, Interior official Randy Bowman, who led the monument review process, drafted two proposals: one in which Trump would revoke the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument and the other in which he would...
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