Grijalva, Gallego, Lujan Grisham Lead Pair of Letters to Zinke Urging Halt to Further Action on Shrinking Utah National Monuments

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz) and Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) and Michele Lujan Grisham (D-N.M.) led a pair of letters to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke today, each signed by 61 of their House Democratic colleagues, urging him to halt work on any environmental impact statement (EIS) or monument management plan being prepared for Bears Ears National Monument or Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, both protected sites in Utah that President Trump attempted to shrink with a December 2017 presidential proclamation whose legal future is now in dispute.

Rep. Gallego is a member of the Natural Resources Committee. Rep. Lujan Grisham is chairwoman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The letter on Bears Ears is available at http://bit.ly/2IuhFvD, and the letter on Grand Staircase-Escalante is available at http://bit.ly/2ItYVfB.

Trump’s Presidential Proclamation 9681, issued on Dec. 4, 2017, sought to greatly reduce the boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante and drew immediate lawsuits that have bene consolidated in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Secretary Zinke has hastily pushed for management plans to be put in place at what remains of the sites despite widespread opposition to the move and the lawsuits’ uncertain outcome.

The Trump administration recently suffered a defeat when Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled that plaintiffs in the lawsuit must receive notice before any ground on the disputed public property is disturbed. As the Salt Lake Tribune reported on Sept. 24, “The plaintiffs had told the court they worried the Interior Department, which manages the lands, would approve mining or drilling operations that would permanently scar the landscape before the case could be decided.”

The remnants of Bears Ears National Monument now total 202,000 acres instead of the 1.3 million that President Barack Obama designated as Bears Ears in 2016. Trump’s proclamation reduced Grand Staircase-Escalante to three different monuments totaling approximately 1 million acres, a drastic cut from the 1.9 million acres President Clinton protected in 1996.

In addition to the threat of mining and drilling, both monuments were designed to protect culturally and historically sensitive landscapes from looting and vandalism. As the lawmakers write to Zinke today, “The current [management] plan only protects 15 percent of the original Bears Ears boundaries, returning the remaining 85 percent of Bears Ears National Monument to a management regime that too often left room for looting, vandalism and development threats, including those from extractive industries.”

The lawmakers write that to move forward with any management plan or EIS for the new boundaries while they are still being litigated “is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars and a transparent attempt to rush forward an illegal disposition of public lands before the courts have ruled.”

The Obama administration’s process for creating the original Bears Ears management plan included 15 public meetings in six states across the country. The rushed pace of the current planning process, in comparison, is producing sloppy and inconsistent management strategies. The lawmakers write that the process Zinke is overseeing “looks like an attempt to finalize President Trump’s unlawful action before serious objections are considered.”

The full list of signatories for both letters is available below.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler

Rep. Terri A. Sewell

Rep. Earl Blumenauer

Rep. Frederica S. Wilson

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly

Rep. Nydia M. Velázquez

Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay

Rep. Grace F. Napolitano

Rep. Salud O. Carbajal

Rep. Donald S. Beyer Jr.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee

Rep. Adam B. Schiff

Rep. A Donald McEachin

Rep. Jerry McNerney

Rep. Betty McCollum

Rep. Darren Soto

Rep. Diana Titus

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

Rep. Nanette Barragán

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, II

Rep. Scott Peters

Rep. Roybal-Allard

Rep. Kathy Castor

Rep. Jared Huffman

Rep. Norma J. Torres

Rep. James P. McGovern

Rep. Mike Quigley

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson

Rep. Jan Schakowsky

Rep. Ted W. Lieu

Rep. Brendan F. Boyle

Rep. Adam Smith

Rep. Jamie Raskin

Rep. Mike Doyle

Rep. Judy Chu

Rep. Steve Cohen

Rep. John Yarmuth

Rep. Peter Welch

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa

Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Zoe Lofgren

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz

Rep. John Garamendi

Rep. Grace Meng

Rep. Alan Lowenthal

Rep. Susan A. Davis

Rep. Albio Sires

Rep. Anthony Brown

Rep. Mark Pocan

Rep. Diana DeGette

Rep. Jackie Speier

Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney

Rep. Mike Thompson

Rep. Jimmy Panetta

Rep. Niki Tsongas

Rep. José E. Serrano.

Rep. Barbara Lee

Rep. Raul Ruiz

Rep. Ben Ray Luján

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