Antiquities Act

Trump’s DOI Moves to Open Federal Land in Utah for Energy Production, Recreation

President Donald Trump directed the Department of Interior to open up more federal lands for energy production and recreation, including in Utah where he downsized massive amounts of land put off limits by the Obama administration. The Department of Interior announced the finalized plan last week even as environmentalists challenge Trump’s 2017 proclamations to return the boundaries Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante monuments to be consistent with the Antiquities Act of 1906. The plan allows for leasing land in Utah for the mining of coal and drilling for oil and gas and for recreation and tourism. “The approved plans keep the commitment of this Administration to the families and communities of Utah that know and love this land the best and will care for these resources for many generations to come,” Casey Hammond, acting assistant secretary, land and minerals management, said in the DOI announcement. “These cooperatively developed and locally driven plans restore a prosperous future to communities too often dismissed and punished by unilateral decisions of those that would not listen to the voices of Utahns.” “I appreciate the President’s and Secretary [David] Bernhardt’s collaborative approach to both the Grand Staircase-Escalante and the Bears Ears national monuments,” Utah Governor Gary Herbert said in the announcement. “As the Antiquities Act itself states, and as I have reiterated for years, monuments should be as small as possible to protect artifacts and cultural resources.” “And they should not be created over the objections of local communities,” Herbert said. “I’m happy to see the administration develop management plans that protect areas with sensitive artifacts and yet still provide a way to use these lands for recreation, grazing, and management practices that will keep the lands healthy.” “The outcomes are always better when the federal government works with local communities rather than presumes to know what is best for them,” Hebert said. “These management plans are the result of meaningful collaboration that was clearly lacking in the politically-motivated monument designations by past administrations,” Rep. Robert Bishop (R-UT) said in the announcement. “Well-funded special interest groups that aren’t from our state will spread outrageous misinformation, but the fact remains that this administration has continued to take actions that reflect the will of Utahns who call these places home.” “When President Trump reduced the size of both Bear’s Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, he did it with the full support of Utah’s federal delegation and the elected officials who represent those areas,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) said in the announcement. “By contrast, the Obama and Clinton administrations snubbed and ignored Utah’s local, state, and federal elected officials who objected to the creation of both monuments.”

Kudos to President Trump and his DOI for this way over-due common sense decision.  Both the Clinton and Obama administrations grossly abused the Antiquities Act to wall off huge swaths of public land; in effect exercising land grabs by the big brother federal government.  This restores much of that land back to the great state of Utah, and allows for energy exploration for our energy independence, and for recreation.  And, despite what the extreme enviro-wackos would have you believe, such activities CAN be done in an environmentally responsible manner.  Again, excellent decision!  For more, click on the text above.     🙂

Trump moves to ‘reverse federal overreach,’ cuts down Bears Ears, Grand Staircase monuments

Saying it was his duty to “reverse federal overreach” by both the Obama and Clinton administrations, President Trump on Monday signed two proclamations to pare down and carve up both the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments in Utah. At a speech in Salt Lake City, Mr. Trump said previous presidents have greatly abused their power under the century-old Antiquities Act, and stretched the law past its limits in cordoning off millions of acres of land and placing them under government control. “Some people think the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong,” the president said to a supportive crowd that chanted “Four more years” immediately after his address. The president’s long-awaited actions — the final result of a review of nearly two dozen national monuments undertaken by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke earlier this year — were immediately decried by environmentalists and Democrats who threatened to sue the White House. The legal fight over a president’s authority to chop up national monuments is expected to last for years, and courts have never ruled on the full extent of an executive’s authority in that regard. Mr. Trump didn’t address to the legality of his action, instead saying the decision simply came down to giving land control back to the people. “The families of communities of Utah know and love this land the best and you know best how to take care of your land. You know how to protect it,” he said. “They don’t know your land and truly they don’t care for your land like you do.” Mr. Trump’s proclamations will dramatically shrink both monuments. The Bears Ears National Monument, created by former President Obama in 2016, will be cut from a single 1.35 million-acre monument to three separate sites encompassing roughly 220,000 acres. The sprawling 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante site, a highly controversial monument birthed by President Clinton in 1996, will see its acreage cut in half. The remaining 1 million acres will be divided up into three separate monuments, the White House said. In both cases, the monument designations shut off huge areas of land to energy exploration, some types of recreation, and other activities. At Grand Staircase, the change will allow access to a major coal mine. At Bears Ears, uranium mines likely will now be able to be tapped. The reductions have long been a policy goal of Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, and other lawmakers who saw the Trump administration as a golden opportunity to finally reverse egregious federal land grabs. Supporters of Mr. Trump’s actions say they’re the beginning of true reform of how national monuments are created and managed. “These new proclamations are a first step towards protecting identified antiquities without disenfranchising the local people who work and manage these areas,” said Rep. Rob Bishop, Utah Republican and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. “The next steps will be to move beyond symbolic gestures of protection and create substantive protections and enforcement and codify in law a meaningful management role for local governments, tribes and other stakeholders.”

Trump orders review of national monument designations

President Trump on Wednesday ordered the Interior Department to review national monument designations dating back 20 years for millions of acres of land, arguing former presidents have “abused” the system and vowing to return such authority to citizens and state lawmakers. “Today, we are giving power back to the states and people where it belongs,” Trump said in signing the executive order at the Interior Department headquarters in Washington, D.C. “This massive federal land grab; it’s gotten worse and worse.” The order has already sparked a sharp response from the Sierra Club and other environmentalist groups that are concerned about any possible changes ending the protections and allowing use of the land for oil or gas drilling. “America’s parks and public lands are not in need of corporate restructuring,” the Sierra Club said. “We should not be asking which parts of our history and heritage we can eliminate, but instead how we can make our outdoors reflect the full American story.” At issue is the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives presidents authority to protect land. Trump said the law also gives the federal government “unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water” and that it has been used on hundreds of millions of acres. He vowed to “end these abuses.” The executive order targets protections from the past three presidents including two spots in Utah: former President Barack Obama’s designation of the 1.35 million-acre Bear Ears National Monument in Utah and former President Bill Clinton’s designation in 1996 of the Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said before the signing: “Let me be clear, this executive order does not reverse any monument designation.” The 111-year-old act grants presidents the authority to create national monuments from federal land to protect its historic, cultural and scientific significance, and the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld such changes. However, Congress has twice limited presidential powers under the act, requiring congressional consent on some future proclamations. The executive order was created at the urging of Sen. Orrin Hatch and other members of Utah’s Republican congressional delegation. “When President Obama designated the Bears Ears monument in December, he did so ignoring the voices of Utah leaders who were united in opposition, and even more importantly, ignoring the voices of the local Utahns most affected by this massive land grab,” Hatch said last week while visiting the site. Among those attending the signing ceremony were Hatch, fellow Utah GOP Sen. Mike Lee and Vice President Pence.

Yes!!!  This is great news, and a HUGE victory for states rights!!  Excellent!!