‘Go West, Mr. Pres­i­dent, go West’

West­ern con­ser­va­tives are fight­ing hard to ad­vance con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples and pub­lic pol­icy

The Washington Times Daily - - OPINION - By Jeff Hunt Jeff Hunt is the Chair­man of the West­ern Con­ser­va­tive Sum­mit, Di­rec­tor of the Cen­ten­nial In­sti­tute, and Vice Pres­i­dent of Pub­lic Pol­icy for Colorado Chris­tian Univer­sity.

Since Don­ald Trump has been pres­i­dent, he has not been west of Cedar Rapids, Iowa. No vis­its to Cal­i­for­nia, Texas, Ok­la­homa, Colorado, Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, the Dako­tas, or any­where be­tween. How­ever, 92 of his 306 suc­cess­ful elec­toral votes came from this re­gion.

De­spite this ab­sence, there is much to cel­e­brate among West­ern con­ser­va­tives. Ryan Zinke, a West­ern con­ser­va­tive him­self, was a great se­lec­tion as U.S. sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior.

At the re­cent West­ern Con­ser­va­tive Sum­mit in Den­ver, Colorado, Sec­re­tary Zinke de­clared, “The war on Amer­i­can en­ergy is over.” The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has ex­panded Amer­i­can en­ergy pro­duc­tion by ap­prov­ing the Dakota and Keystone pipe­lines, ex­pand­ing off­shore drilling, in­creas­ing pro­duc­tion in Alaska, end­ing the job-killing Obama-era coal reg­u­la­tions, and with­draw­ing Amer­ica from the use­less Paris cli­mate agree­ment.

Bot­tom line, Amer­ica is pro­duc­ing more en­ergy, driv­ing prices down for con­sumers, sup­port­ing good-pay­ing en­ergy sec­tor jobs, and re­duc­ing our de­pen­dence on for­eign en­ergy.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is also giv­ing lo­cal voices an op­tion to speak out about the cre­ation of na­tional mon­u­ments. Pres­i­dent Obama abused the An­tiq­ui­ties Act of 1906 to name more na­tional mon­u­ments than any other pres­i­dent in his­tory, all with­out lo­cal con­sent. The prob­lem with the An­tiq­ui­ties

Act is that it has be­come a fed­eral gov­ern­ment land grab. Lo­cal ap­proval to des­ig­nate land as a na­tional mon­u­ment is not re­quired even though the des­ig­na­tion can have se­ri­ous im­pacts on the lo­cal com­mu­nity and econ­omy.

Rather than si­lenc­ing the voices of those most im­pacted by a de­ci­sion com­ing from Washington, D.C., Mr. Trump and Mr. Zinke have im­ple­mented a “for­mal pub­lic com­ment pe­riod for mem­bers of the pub­lic to of­fi­cially weigh in on mon­u­ment des­ig­na­tions” for sites des­ig­nated na­tional mon­u­ments “since Jan­uary 1, 1996, where the des­ig­na­tion cov­ers more than 100,000 acres.”

This is an im­por­tant first step to giv­ing West­ern­ers more con­trol over their land. Mr. Trump, un­like Mr. Obama, is will­ing to give lo­cal West­ern­ers a voice.

The pres­i­dent and Congress can, how­ever, go fur­ther to give con­trol back to states by al­low­ing the rules gov­ern­ing Wy­oming re­gard­ing the An­tiq­ui­ties Act to be ap­plied to the rest of the na­tion. Any­time the pres­i­dent seeks to des­ig­nate land in Wy­oming a na­tional mon­u­ment, he or she needs ap­proval from Congress. This com­mon-sense ap­proach pro­tects the ini­tial pur­pose of the An­tiq­ui­ties Act while bal­anc­ing the needs and con­cerns of lo­cal cit­i­zens. The Wy­oming model for the An­tiq­ui­ties Act should be ap­plied na­tion­wide. The pres­i­dent also ap­pointed Neil Gor­such, a Coloradan who em­braces the orig­i­nal in­tent of the Con­sti­tu­tion, to the U.S. Supreme Court. As we’re al­ready wit­ness­ing, Jus­tice Gor­such is bring­ing west­ern com­mon sense to his de­ci­sions. We’re hop­ing he will up­hold the re­li­gious free­dom for all when Jack Phillips, a Colorado baker, faces the U.S. Supreme Court on re­li­gious free­dom soon.

There is much to cel­e­brate as West­ern con­ser­va­tives, but we would like to see the pres­i­dent, too. West­ern con­ser­va­tives are fight­ing hard to ad­vance con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples and pub­lic pol­icy in their states. A visit from the pres­i­dent to the West­ern United States would strengthen grass­roots con­ser­va­tives and help the pres­i­dent’s agenda. We hope he will visit soon. In the words of Ho­race Gree­ley, “Go West, young man, go West. There is health in the coun­try, and room away from our crowds of idlers and im­be­ciles.”

The pres­i­dent and Congress can go fur­ther to give con­trol back to states by al­low­ing the rules gov­ern­ing Wy­oming re­gard­ing the An­tiq­ui­ties Act to be ap­plied to the rest of the na­tion.

ILLUSTRATION BY GREG GROESCH

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