Donald Trump to order review of national monument designations

Katrina Soto
April 26, 2017

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the President will this week sign an executive order to ask the Interior Department to review all national monument designations in the past 21 years.

The orders could expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and upend public lands protections put in place in Utah, Maine and other states.

Mr. Obama set a record for the largest amount of land and sea designated as national monuments, though former President George W. Bush also used the act to protect huge swaths of ocean.

Republicans in ME, including Gov. Paul LePage, have asked Trump to stop national monument status for Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, an expansive piece of land that includes much of the Penobscot River watershed.

Friends of Gold Butte, which supported Obama's southern Nevada monument designation, told BuzzFeed News it opposes "any attempts to reduce the scope or influence of the Antiquities Act".

The first step is to provide Trump with an interim report in 45 days focused on Bears Ears.

The political fracas is based just outside Colorado, as Republican leaders seek to reverse President Obama's designation of of the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears Monument in the Four Corners region of southeast Utah in December. The act was meant to allow the President to identify specific shoals or breeding areas and safeguard them from development, but Obama applied that executive authority to massive stretches of the shelf containing wildly different undersea terrains and habitats. Hatch's comment about "reining" it in suggests that the Trump administration is beginning a process that may alter the law, which could impact the ability of future presidents to create national monuments in the first place - a boon to local communities that feel strangled by regulation but a blow to conservationists who view the West as threatened by human activity.

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Two other national monuments - Browns Canyon and Chimney Rock - were established under President Obama.

Administration officials on Monday confirmed the expected moves. A UtahPolicy.com poll published right after Bears Ears was created found 40% of Utahns said President Trump should rescind the monument while 46% said he should leave the monument alone.

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

"The storm is getting worse before it gets better", he said. Utah Congressman Rob Bishop has called for Trump to withdraw the designation or at least scale it back in size.

All of those monuments could be targeted under the review Trump is ordering. The President is expected to issue another Executive Order tomorrow which will direct the Interior Department to review all of the existing national monuments with an eye toward potentially eliminating some of them or possibly transferring them to the National Park Service where appropriate.

Conservation groups have condemned the impending executive order as an attack on US public lands. "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. Donald Trump, Jr. has also said he is in favor of "refunding" federal lands to keep them out of private control.

Other reports by My Hot News

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