Trump will soon reveal whether he’ll eliminate national monuments

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U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke waits to take the stage with President Donald Trump for his on infrastructure improvements, at the Department of Transportation in Washington, U.S. June 9, 2017.  REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst  Trump will soon reveal whether he'll eliminate national monuments Trump will soon reveal whether he’ll eliminate national monuments us national monument review to test key land protection law 2017 8
Zinke waits to take the stage with Trump for his on
infrastructure improvements, at the Department of Transportation
in Washington

Thomson
Reuters


WASHINGTON (Reuters) — U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will
recommend on Aug. 24 whether to eliminate or shrink nearly two
dozen national monuments, creating the first major test for a
111-year-old law that gives presidents the power to protect
swaths of public land.

Zinke is expected to recommend that at least some of the national
monuments under review — which were all created since 1996 — be
rescinded or shrunk in size, responding to an order by President
Donald Trump, who believes there should be greater opportunity to
increase local resource development and economic opportunities.

Any recommendation of reductions could herald a move into
unchartered territory.

Under the Antiquities Act, a president can declare certain areas
of historic or scientific interest a national monument. However,
no president has ever revoked a previous designation.

Previous presidents, including Woodrow Wilson and William Howard
Taft did reduce the size of some existing monuments.

But this time, environmental groups are prepared to challenge any
changes in court — something that has not happened before.

Trump has argued that previous administrations “abused” their
right to designate federally protected monuments under the 1906
Antiquities Act and put millions of acres of land — mainly in
western states — off limits to drilling, mining, logging and
other activity without adequate input from locals.

Under the Antiquities Act, a president can declare certain areas
of historic or scientific interest a national monument.

‘Willing to go into battle


Bears Ears National Monument Trump will soon reveal whether he'll eliminate national monuments Trump will soon reveal whether he’ll eliminate national monuments 31828924051b4d5abd814o
Bear’s
Ears National Monument.


Bureau
of Land Management/Flickr



Conservation groups, state attorneys general and Native American
tribes, including the five tribes which lobbied to create one of
the sites under review — Bears Ears National Monument in Utah —
have already said they plan to challenge any changes in court.

“We told Zinke that all the tribes are willing to go into battle
in terms of litigation and we are here to fight for our
monument,” said Davis Filfred, a council delegate for the Navajo
Nation council.

While Zinke has said so far that six monuments of the 27 on the
review list should be left intact, he is expected to recommend
downsizing some through presidential decree or Congressional
action, which could change how future presidents use the 1906
law.

Zinke has already said he intends to scale down Bears Ears, which
covers 1.35 million acres and was created last December by former
President Barack Obama, who said it would protect the cultural
legacy of Native American tribes and preserve “scenic and
historic landscapes.”

Zinke said he believes previous presidents took too many
liberties with the Antiquities act.

“Clearly the Antiquities Act was designed to protect the smallest
area compatible with protection of the object,” Zinke told
Reuters in June in Boston, where he met with stakeholders to
discuss the Atlantic coast Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine
monument.

Zinke said that “Congress needs to step to the plate, too,” to
take up legislation that could change some monument sizes and
create other designations like national recreation and
conservation areas.

Molly Block, a spokeswoman for Utah Republican Representative Rob
Bishop, chair of the House of Representatives Natural Resources
Committee, said while the House may be able to pass legislation
regarding monuments, enactment of a measure would be an uphill
battle.

“You can get something through the House, but anything we do will
face a tough time in the Senate,” she said.

Meanwhile, public support for monuments has grown in visibility.

Zinke has said Interior has received over 1.2 million public
comments on the Regulations.gov website and thousands more via
traditional mail. Environmental groups have said more than 2.7
million comments were submitted, mostly in favor of keeping the
monuments intact.

“The debate has galvanized a lot of different interests beyond
traditional environmental groups, including outdoor retailers and
hunters and fishers, who are out there mobilizing during this
review,” said Sharon Buccino of the Natural Resources Defense
Council.

Outdoor retailer Patagonia aired its first-ever TV
ads on Sunday
, featuring a direct appeal to Zinke to leave
the monuments intact.

The ads will air in Zinke’s home state of Montana, as well as
Utah and Nevada, where several monuments are under review.

(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Leslie Adler)



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