Gov. Norm Bangerter has rejected a request by an environmental group to release copies of Air Force documents regarding a proposed "electronic battlefield" in Utah's West Desert.
The documents are stamped "For Official Use Only," state officials said, adding that the Air Force, not the state, should decide whether to release the documents.Air Force officials "gave copies to the governor as a courtesy," said Randy Moon, state science adviser. "They asked us to tell people to come to them if they want copies. What can we do?"
But Steve Erickson, spokesman for the environmental group Down-winders, said Thursday the Air Force already has rejected a request to release the documents. The Deseret News also has unsuccessfully attempted to obtain copies through the federal Freedom of Information Act.
The documents are draft editions of a report that Air Force officials have promised to make public in its final form in May or June. Air Force officials and officials from the governor's office said the drafts are meaningless compared with the final edition.
Erickson recently obtained a copy of an April 1988 draft from an unidentified source. He now wants copies of other drafts.
"The military has a right to work on a document without having to release every draft of it," said Bud Scruggs, Ban-gerter's chief of staff. "There will be a full hearing process. He (Erickson) is just trying to build up a public hysteria so he can get a full head of steam going into the public hearing process."
Erickson said he is not interested in portions of the documents that are preliminary or subject to change. He is interested in the part of the report that explains why Utah was selected for the electronic battlefield.
He said he will appeal the governor's decision to withhold the documents to the State Records Committee. He also will appeal to the Air Force.
"Where does the public right to know come in?" Erickson asked. "We want to know how they picked Utah. This has nothing to do with the privacy of individuals," a common reason for withholding documents.
Bangerter said again Thursday he is satisfied with the way the Air Force has cooperated with the state.