Source: Good 4 Utah
President Donald Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that reviews enforcement of the law that gives him power to designate lands as national monuments.
The Federal Antiquities Act of 1906 gave the president of the United State the power set aside land for federal protection.
The order, which Trump signed at the Interior Department Wednesday, could lead to the reshaping of 24 national monuments, including Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
In December 2016, President Obama designated 1.35 million acres in San Juan County, Utah as Bears Ears National Monument.
In February, Utah lawmakers passed a resolution to ask Trump to rescind the designation.
Utah lawmakers, some of whom were present at the signing of the executive order, and advocacy groups responded to Trump’s action.
Senator Mike Lee thanked the president for beginning the monument review.
“I commend President Trump for beginning a review of past monument designations, and I’m confident that after that review some of them, including the recent Bears Ears designation, will be rescinded or altered to better conform with the original intention of the Antiquities Act,” Sen. Lee said.
Senator Orrin Hatch praised Trump for “giving Utahns a voice on Bears Ears.”
“Today’s executive action is the culmination of months of hard work and close coordination with the White House,” Hatch said. “When I first spoke with President Trump in the Oval Office during his first week on the job, I asked for his help in addressing the Bears Ears debacle. From day one, our President has been committed to helping us fix this disaster and ensuring that our smallest counties get a fair shake. For years, I have fought to give voice to the needs of our rural communities in the debate over public lands. Time and again, past Presidents have abused their authority under the Antiquities Act to satisfy the demands of an extreme environmental agenda. But no more. Following today’s action, I look forward to working with the Trump administration to establish a new precedent of collaboration and trust between states and the federal government as we work toward a shared goal of preserving our cultural antiquities.”
Government Herbert offered the following comments after witnessing the president’s signing of the executive order.
“I appreciate President Trump, Vice President Pence and Secretary Zinke’s comments and actions today to address the historical abuse of the Antiquities Act. The review ordered is critically important and holds the potential for a great restoration of integrity.
Throughout its history, the state of Utah has had something of a Jekyll and Hyde relationship with the act. We have been the beneficiary of assertive, yet measured, presidential action using this tool; but we have also felt a deep and lasting burden when it has been misused.
Four of Utah’s five magnificent national parks began as national monuments. Utah is proud of these parks, but the associated monument designations were small, appropriate and fell within the clear scope and intent of the law. These designations encompassed the smallest area necessary to protect the objects in question. They were also largely brought about with the support of local impacted communities and with the support of Utah’s leaders.
Utah, however, has also experienced a great downside of the Antiquities Act as it began to be misused. We know firsthand what happens when the law is abused for unworthy political purposes. The Grand Staircase Escalante designation and the recent controversial Bears Ears designation are key examples of this, and I am confident that the upcoming review will lead to positive outcomes for Utah and for those who call the beautiful Bears Ears area home.
I am grateful to President Trump for undertaking this important process. Utah looks forward to continually working with the president’s administration to ensure that the Antiquities Act is restored to its proper scope and use. It is time for a course correction,” said Herbert.
Representative Jason Chaffetz applauded the signing of the executive order.
“Unilaterally locking up millions of acres of land for political gain was not the original intent of the Antiquities Act. Imposing such designations without any kind of local support from those who will bear the burden is an abuse of power. I strongly support President Trump’s order to review the gross misuse of such an outdated law. The American people – especially Utahns – deserve better than to have their livelihoods turned upside down with the stroke of a pen.”
Utah’s Speaker of the House Greg Hughes says he’s “thankful we have a president that is sensitive to the needs of those of the West.”
“I’m grateful to live in a nation where things are not forced upon us by politicians that do not care and do not listen to what a majority of Utahns want,” said Speaker Hughes. “We now have a president that is willing to listen to the input of Utahns and discuss viable alternatives.”
Alliance for a Better Utah says the executive order favors coal and corporations over people. “Today’s action puts the coal industry and corporate interests ahead of Utahns and future generations,” said Madison Hayes, Content Manager for Alliance for a Better Utah.
Center for Western Priorities calls the move an attack on national monuments.
“President Trump has launched an all-out assault on our national monuments and public lands. He made it clear today that he will eliminate protections for some of America’s most spectacular lands, waters, and cultural sites, opening them up to drilling and mining.
“This action is an affront to America’s public lands legacy, the $887 billion outdoor recreation economy, and the millions of Americans who hunt, fish, hike, and camp in our national monuments. The president is setting himself up for years of legal trouble when he tries to erase protections that ensure public access to America’s lands and waters,” said Executive Director Jennifer Rokala.
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