Despite Broad Opposition, President Obama Proclaims National Monuments in Utah and Nevada
December 28, 2016 -
Today, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to unilaterally declare Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. President Obama has abused the Antiquities Act to designate more national monuments and lock away more acreage than any other U.S. President in history. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) issued the following statement:
“Utah is saddened by this announcement today. It is alien to the desires of the overwhelming majority of Utahns. It’s also alien to the desires of the overwhelming number of Native Americans who live in this area, who will use this area, who approached us on how they wanted to function on this land. None of those desires are going to be accomplished by a monument designation.
“It is sad that there are special interest groups that feel that they are empowered, that feel that they can get the President to bend to their every will. Unfortunately, with today’s announcement, maybe there is some truth to that.
“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. 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.”
Chairman Bishop added:
“The announcement perpetuates two egregious lies. The first being that the size of the monument parallels the Public Lands Initiative. That is not true. The administration is grasping at arguments to justify a lame duck administration’s efforts to do things contrary to the will of the people who live in San Juan County. The second lie is in the creation of a faux commission to give management authority to Native Americans. This is a diversion. The Utah delegation wants to give management authority to Native Americans; the administration can’t. Only Congress can legally do so. This administration over-promised, failed to deliver, and is now trying to hide its ineptitude.”
The Committee held a legislative hearing on H.R. 5780 (Rep. Bishop), the “Utah Public Lands Initiative,” on September 14, 2016 and passed the bill on September 22, 2016. H.R. 5780 provides greater conservation, recreation, economic development and local management of federal lands in Utah. It was developed through a transparent public process that included 1,200 meetings, 50 field trips and several hearings across Utah, garnering broad stakeholder input and local support.
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