Trump moves to re­scind Na­tional Mon­u­ments

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

Pres­i­dent Trump this week is expected to take the first step to­ward po­ten­tially un­do­ing na­tional mon­u­ments cre­ated by his pre­de­ces­sors, and may set off an un­prece­dented le­gal bat­tle in the process.

Mr. Trump’s loom­ing ex­ec­u­tive or­der, first re­ported by The Salt Lake Tri­bune on Mon­day, will di­rect the In­te­rior Depart­ment to re­view all mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions for the past two decades, dat­ing back to Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton’s cre­ation of the mas­sive Grand Stair­case-Es­calante Mon­u­ment in Utah in 1996.

The In­te­rior Depart­ment is also expected to zero in on the 1.3 mil­lion-acre Bears Ears Na­tional Mon­u­ment, also in Utah and es­tab­lished by for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in the fi­nal weeks of his term.

Mr. Obama set a record for the most land and sea set aside as na­tional mon­u­ments, tak­ing pres­i­den­tial author­ity un­der the cen­tury-old An­tiq­ui­ties Act to new lev­els. And by cor­don­ing off those huge swaths, he shut them down to en­ergy devel­op­ment and other ac­tiv­i­ties.

Bears Ears was es­pe­cially con­tro­ver­sial. Not only did it come dur­ing the last month of Mr. Obama’s ten­ure, but the des­ig­na­tion was made over the ob­jec­tions of many Utah law­mak­ers.

Crit­ics of Mr. Obama’s use of the An­tiq­ui­ties Act wel­comed news that the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion plans to re­visit the is­sue.

“We’re happy to see an ad­min­is­tra­tion fi­nally tak­ing ac­tion to re­solve the many abuses of the An­tiq­ui­ties Act,” said Molly Block, spokes­woman for the House Nat­u­ral Re­sources Com­mit­tee, which has ju­ris­dic­tion over na­tional mon­u­ments.

But should Mr. Trump seek to for­mally roll back Bears Ears or any other mon­u­ment, he’ll be en­ter­ing a le­gal gray area, and his ac­tions surely will be chal­lenged in court by en­vi­ron­men­tal­ists.

The An­tiq­ui­ties Act, signed into law in 1906, gives the pres­i­dent clear author­ity to des­ig­nate na­tional mon­u­ments.

What’s un­clear, how­ever, is whether a pres­i­dent has the power to re­voke a mon­u­ment. Past pres­i­dents have de­creased the size of mon­u­ments, but no pres­i­dent has tried to out­right elim­i­nate one.

“This is a fright­en­ing step to­ward dis­man­tling the pro­tec­tion of some of Amer­ica’s most im­por­tant and iconic places: our na­tional parks and mon­u­ments,” said Kieran Suck­ling, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.