The Washington Post reports that Obama designated two new areas as national monuments: 1.35 million acres in Utah as Bears Ears National Monument and 300,000 acres in Nevada as Gold Butte National Monument through the 1906 Antiquities Act.
“I am designating two new national monuments in the desert landscapes of southeastern Utah and southern Nevada to protect some of our country’s most important cultural treasures, including abundant rock art, archaeological sites and lands considered sacred by Native American tribes,” Obama said in a statement. “Today’s actions will help protect this cultural legacy and will ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and appreciate these scenic and historic landscapes.”
Congressional Utah Republicans were not happy with Obama’s move.
“Mr. President, I want you to know that we are saddened by this abuse of the Antiquities Act. It is sad that this entire process has been done in secrecy and in shadows,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), who chairs the House Natural Resources Committee. “And Mr. President, I want you to know as Utahns, we will use every tool at our disposal to do the right thing — whether it be legislative action, judicial action, even executive action — because what we have seen so far is a poor procedure. It’s a poor policy and it reflects poorly on your legacy. As Utahns, we will fight to right this wrong.”
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) also voiced his displeasure.
“The midnight move is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes,” Chaffetz said. “It does not have the support of the Governor, a single member of the state’s congressional delegation, nor any local elected officials or state legislators who represent the area.”
The land grab now puts Obama’s total amount acres designated as national monuments at over 554 million, the most of any president. It also another example of an Obama land decree without input from the states and localities
“My office is working closely with the governor’s office, federal and state legislators, and San Juan County to file a lawsuit challenging this egregious overreach by the Obama administration. This case is different from other past challenges by states and counties and we are confident in our chances of success. But the courtroom is not our only option. Our federal delegation is working hard to defund the designation or rescind it altogether. Additionally, we look forward to working with the new presidential administration on ways to curtail or otherwise address the designation.”
Full article: Utah Attorney General Suing Obama