Trump To Initiate 'Long Overdue' Review Of Potential Antiquities Act Abuses

26 April, 2017, 08:33 | Author: Michele Stevens
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U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to order a review of the use of the Antiquities Act over the past 20 years, including the creation of two massive national monuments that were created in southern Utah. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will then recommend legislative or executive changes to monument designations.

Gov. Paul LePage says he will testify before Congress next week to urge lawmakers to reverse the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

"The Legislature in ME had a resolution and said they did not want a national park or monument, the governor weighed in and did not want it, we had local referendums that said they did not want it, and he did it anyway", LePage said of Obama.

President Obama designated the site as a National Monument just past year, saying: "Stonewall will be our first national monument to tell the story of the struggle for LGBT rights".

Zinke said he would make a specific recommendation within 45 days on what to do about Bears Ears, which enjoys support from a broad coalition of tribes and environmentalists but is opposed by every elected GOP official in the state.

For a century, USA presidents have enjoyed unilateral authority under the act, but former President Barack Obama's controversial decision to create Bears Ears National Monument in Utah set the table for a reform movement.

Obama used the Antiquities Act to protect more land and water than any president before him, with 26 new or expanded monuments totaling more than 550 million acres.

The fear on the part of some environmentalists and administration critics regarding the review is that it could be a step toward rescinding or altering their designation as federally protected monuments, including possibly reducing the size of the protected lands, and that it could open up the territories to exploitation by the oil and gas industries. The order could lead to the reshaping of roughly 30 national monuments that were designated by Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama after 1996.

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FILE - In this June 22, 2016 photo, the "House on Fire" ruins is shown in Mule Canyon, near Blanding, Utah in Bears Ears National Monument.

Administration officials on Monday confirmed the expected moves. Legal experts say it would take an act of Congress to eliminate the designation all together.

The executive order will restore "the trust between local communities and Washington", Zinke said.

But Ethan Lane, executive director of the Public Lands Council at the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, said it was time for the administration to scrutinize how the Antiquities Act had been applied and "update" the law itself.

Republican critics of Bears Ears have called for the federal designation to be rescinded and for the land to be given back to the state. "That's why I'm committed to rolling back the egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act to serve far-left special interests, " including Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

César E. Chávez National Monument (California): Encompasses the property that was home and eventually final resting place for the iconic namesake civil rights leader.

Environmental groups blasted Trump's action on the western lands.


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