Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument
Courtesy Conservation System Alliance
8 Bills to end National Monuments
April 2012 Update: In mid-April, the House of Representatives voted on an amendment that was modeled after H.R. 302. This amendment took away the president’s authority to designate new national monuments. This assault threatens land that holds unique historical, cultural, and environmental values. The House voted to pass this amendment and showed its determination in destroying long held bipartisan consensus on national monuments and conservation. The bill with this amendment has been sent to the Senate for consideration.
Eight bills have been introduced that have the sole purpose of gutting the Antiquities Act: H.R. 302, H. R. 758, H.R. 817, H.R. 845, H.R. 846, H.R. 2147, H.R. 2877 and H.R. 3292. All of these bills eviscerate the president’s authority to designate new national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Most of the above proposals seek to exempt individual states from having new national monuments designated within their borders, or limit the size of new monuments, or require congressional approval of their designation. The Antiquities Act is one of America’s bedrock land protection statutes, and has been used by Republican and Democratic presidents alike to protect sensitive areas large and small from polluters and irresponsible developers for over a hundred years.
Under these bills, the President will lose a critical tool for the preservation of our public lands for future generations, and states may lose local economic benefits that are created by visits to national monuments. In communities all across the West, the designation of new monuments has helped spur economic growth in rural communities. For example, “The designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument didn’t just help the economy. It is the economy,” said Steve Roberts, the owner of Escalante Outfitters in Utah. “My business increased by 25 percent this year, and we’ve seen similar increases since the designation. Each year, more and more people come because of the monument and the surrounding protected lands.”
This landmark and bipartisan law, used by 15 different presidents for over one hundred years, is not an obstacle to a booming economy; it is an economic generator.