By April 26, 2017 Read More →

Trump signs executive order to review national monuments

national monuments

National monuments created in the past 21 years will be under review, including Bears Ears which was created by the Obama administration. Utah Public Radio photo.

National monuments may be rescinded or resized

On Wednesday, US President Donald Trump signed an executive order which could see over two dozen national monuments either rescinded or resized.

The move is part of the Trump administration’s push to open up more federal lands to drilling, mining and other development and has industry cheering and environmentalists up in arms.

Trump said the the 1906 Antiquities Act by presidents before him was an “egregious abuse of federal power.”  He said his executive order would give “power back to the states” to decide if the land should be protected or used for development.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will conduct the review of around 30 national monuments that have been created over the past two decades, and to review if the designations should be lifted or altered.

Zinke says will will seek local feedback before making his recommendations.  He cautioned the reversing a monument designation may be difficult.

“It is untested, as you know, whether the president can do that,” Zinke said.

In one of the few times when the size of a national monument was altered, in 1915, President Woodrow Wilson reduced the size of Mount Olympus National Monument in Washington state. He argued there was an urgent need for lumber at the time.

Congress has taken action to abolish 11 monuments throughout history and many have been modified.

Under Trump’s order, Zinke will review the past 21 years of proclamations beginning with President Bill Clinton’s Grand Staircase created in 1996 up to, and including the Bears Ears created by President Barack Obama in 2016.

The Bears Ears was created during the waning days of Obama’s administration.  President Obama said by creating the monument, the cultural legacy of Native American tribes and “scenic and historic landscapes” would be protected.

Utah’s governor and state’s congressional delegation said it went against the wishes of Utah citizens looking for development.  Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Senators Mike Lee and Orin Hatch stood behind the president while he signed the executive order,

Zinke says he will review the Bears Ears monument first and will report back to the president in 45 days.

Bears Ears is located near where Texas-based EOG Resources has been approved to drill.

In response to the order, conservation and tribal groups signalled they were ready to take on the Trump government.

“With this review, the Trump Administration is walking into a legal, political and moral minefield,” Kate Kelly, public lands director for the Center for American Progress told Reuters.

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