Rep. Stewart attends signing of Antiquities Act Executive Order

Lauren Perry
May 6, 2017

"The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice", Trump said, echoing a common complaint of western state lawmakers.

This, his successor said, was an abuse of the law which eliminated the ability of people in these states to decide how best to use the land.

The Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act orders Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review "all Presidential designations or expansions of designations" under the act made since January 1, 1996 "where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders". A fair review by Zinke will find that monument designations are made with strong public involvement, restrict few existing land uses, benefit local economies and are legally bulletproof.

"We believe that past presidents have overstepped the bounds and the intent of the Antiquities Act by designating far more land as national monuments than was necessary", said AMA Vice President of Government Relations Wayne Allard.

Today President Trump has ordered the revision of the national monuments created during the last 20 years, with the firm intention of rescinding or reducing some of them, especially the areas that would allow drilling, mining and other developments, according to a report by Reuters.

In keeping with the administration's interest in using executive orders to keep campaign promises as Trump nears his 100th day in office on Saturday, the Interior Secretary said the review is, "Another example of the president doing exactly what he's said in his campaign promises".

That could also ensnare smaller monuments that Obama designated for their cultural and historical significance.

The order reverses a previous order set by former President Obama and his predecessors that banned development on hundreds of millions of acres of federal land and water by creating monuments.

The action was welcomed by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, a vocal critic of the Bears Ears designation and of what he called "long-standing abuses of the Antiquities Act".

National Monuments can be declared by presidents and do not have oversight by the legislature. "I am fully confident that any good-faith review will reaffirm the merits of Berryessa Snow Mountain and confirm our community's support for its designation as a national monument".

"His first question was, 'How big is it?' I told him, and he said, 'Great, it's not on the list, '" St. Clair said Thursday.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will review two dozen monuments created over the past 21 years by Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

"Let's be clear", Zinke said Wednesday.

Still, the act is a long-standing sore point for conservatives who often see these designations as federal land grabs and violations of state sovereignty.

"Attempting to wipe national monuments off the map with the stroke of a pen would be illegal and unpopular, and this review will show as much", Grijalva, the senior Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement.

Other reports by VgToday

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