Trump Moves to Reverse National Monument Land Protections

Never has a president tried to undo a national monument created by a predecessor. Trump doesn’t care.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday to identify national monuments that can be rescinded or resized – part of a broader push to open up more federal lands to drilling, mining and other development.

The move comes as part of Trump’s effort to reverse a slew of environmental protections ushered in by former President Barack Obama that he said were hobbling economic growth – an agenda that is cheering industry but enraging conservationists.

Trump signed the order at the Interior Department in Washington, saying that his predecessors’ use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments marked an “egregious abuse of federal power.” He said the order would give “power back to the states” to decide what areas of land should be protected and which should remain open for development.

The monuments covered by the review will range from the Grand Staircase created by President Bill Clinton in 1996 to the Bears Ears created by President Barack Obama in December 2016, both in Utah.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters late Tuesday that Trump’s order would require him to conduct the review of around 30 national monuments created over the past two decades, and recommend which designations should be lifted or altered.

Zinke said he would seek local feedback before making his recommendations, and added any move by Trump to ultimately reverse a monument designation could be tricky.

“It is untested, as you know, whether the president can do that,” Zinke said.

President Woodrow Wilson reduced the size of Washington state’s Mount Olympus National Monument in 1915, arguing there was an urgent need for timber at the time, one of the few examples of the size of national monuments being changed.

Zinke will review the Bears Ears monument first, he said, and will make a recommendation to the president in 45 days.

Obama’s administration created the Bears Ears monument in the final days of his administration, arguing that it would protect the cultural legacy of Native American tribes and preserve “scenic and historic landscapes.”

But Utah’s governor and the state’s congressional delegation opposed the designation, saying it went against the wishes of citizens eager for development.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert, and Senators Mike Lee and Orin Hatch stood beside Trump as he signed the order.

The Bears Ears area lies near where EOG Resources – a Texas-based company – had been approved to drill.

Conservation and tribal groups slammed the order.

“With this review, the Trump Administration is walking into a legal, political and moral minefield,” said Kate Kelly, public lands director for the Center for American Progress.

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Showing 20 comments
  • Jeff Fujita

    I understand the distrust many have over big government’s long reach but I would ask them if they are comfortable with big corporations, especially now with transparency laws being dismantled. Paved paradise. Boom cycles. Consumption without conscience. It’s up to the courts now.

  • Ek

    A petition to Zinke.

  • Victor

    We must as a society and culture take back our power by going 100% alt energy via solar and EV.

    If no demand for oil and gas no drilling or destruction or war

  • jeffrey swett

    Given the report:, it should be clear to any but the dimmest , or most greedy, that the greatest job growth is in recreation, not eextraction or development. Protecting the monumnets and other public lands, funding National Parks , and increasing them, is far more conductive to a growing economy than the extraction industries or turning thousands of acres into private hunting preserves for the wealthy.

  • JJ

    Relax. Based on how the travel ban and the sanctuary cites executive orders quickly got mired in the court system, this one- a real doosie, will be stuck there for years and years…..

    • Dr. Z

      JJ, on February 16, 2017, President Chump signed an order to eliminate the Alaska Predator Rules, which disallowed predator control on wildlife refuges, mainly the inhumane practices of baiting, trapping, and snaring bears and wolves or shooting them while hibernating or denning, or shooting them from an aircraft. This passed the house and senate and now these practices are lawful again. He systematically destroyed protections people have been fighting to enact for decades in a matter of weeks. That was 20 days after that dirtbag took office. Don’t think for a second that this will be “tied up for years.” It won’t. This guy is brazen, unstable, and immoral. He cares nothing about preserving our protected lands and will destroy it to help his greedy friends in the oil and coal industries. Apathy will be the death of this country. Great again my ass.

  • Dennis Pagni

    this ain’t going nowhere. another nothing executive order.

  • Dan Froelich

    By the time the courts figure this out the gigantic orange turd with fake hair and a trophy wife will be voted out of office and we can all take a deep breath and exhale the embarrassment that occurs daily.

    • Craig

      Dan said it best. “Daily embarrassment” is President Trump’s only real accomplishment thus far. We should fight back against his greedy values that he is imposing on us all.

      “Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of the cancer cell.” Abbey

      I believe Trump is indeed a cancer in our government.

  • Kenji Haroutunian

    Kate Kelly is on point. Stay clear of the fanblow, if you can… it’s going to get real ugly.

  • Scott Escott

    Shame on UTAH, Governor Herbert, Orin Hatch and Lee all smiles at F-king over Utah’s Recreation Economy. Get Informed

  • peter

    See all the smiling, glad handing white folks standing around him? Donald Trump is not the problem. It’s those folks constituents that are the problem. Well, that compounded by the fact that our democracy is now for sale to the highest bidder.

  • Ric

    Which of you whiners is willing to put up the money to manage all of these sites? Which of your pet programs do you want to defund so we the people can own more land? The Federal Government can’t do it because it wastes so much money on stuff like obuttheadcare, social programs, gifts to friendly nations like Iran, and mismanaging my healthcare at the VA. Why do you think the Feds will do a better job of managing land than the people who live on or near it? Take a look at the Park Service – we’re (yes, we’re) millions of dollars behind in maintenance because previous administrations wanted to enslave more voters to the democorrupt party and spent money that should have gone to the Parks on unconstitutional crap. Your party did the damage, and the last occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Ave made it worse.

    • Justin

      Ric, if you did a little research, you’d see that the national parks system pays for itself several times over for each tax dollar spent. And the outdoor industry, which is now finally being studied, spends an average of $646 billion in the US annually. That’s more than pharmaceuticals and automobiles combined.

      • Steve

        Don’t trouble Ric with facts since he’s so readily persuaded by false rhetoric. BTW, I just returned to a visit to Grand Staircase, spending several nights in local hotels and patronizing local establishments. Were it not for access to this area as a result of conservation, we would have visited and spent our money elsewhere. Those who advocate land management go to the highest bidder (oops, I mean “state control”), be careful what you wish for.

  • Tom Gorton

    The most dangerous politician to ever come out of America is Nazi Trump. He must be stopped. Our environment and civilization is what’s a stake. The oligarchs have taken over.

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