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Feds Accused Of Hiding Info On Use|Of $450 Million From Lumber Deal

SEATTLE (CN) - The Office of U.S. Trade Representativeillegally refuses to provide the Center for Biological Diversity with information about the $450 million the government has given to "three private entities" for "meritorious initiatives," from settlement funds from the U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement, the Center claims in Federal Court.

The Center claims the USTR is spending $200 million on a "U.S. endowment," a new organization set up to receive and spend the money, "with ample representation for industrial interests on its board but no representation of conservation interests".

It claims the government set up the endowment with little or no public input and little or no information about how the government chose the entities to get the money. It claims the government's foot-dragging - 8 months to provide an inadequate reply to the Center's original FOIA request - could prevent litigation that may be needed to ensure proper expenditure and oversight of the expenditure of the public funds. See complaint.

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