The House Committee on Natural Resources passed a bill Wednesday that will gut the president’s authority to designate national monuments, if it’s made into law.
GOP Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah introduced the National Monument Creation and Protection Act to overhaul the Antiquities Act of 1906. Bishop has consistently called for reformation of the Antiquities Act and a prevention that keeps presidents from designating millions of acres of land as national monuments.
“Congress never intended to give one individual the power to unilaterally seize enormous swathes of our nation’s public lands,” Bishop said during markup before the committee vote. “Our problem isn’t President Obama or President Trump. It’s the underlying law — a statute that provides authority to dictate national monument decisions in secrecy and without public input. The only path to the accountability we all seek — no matter which party controls the White House — is to amend the Act itself.”
Bishop’s bill would create increasingly tougher standards for designating national monuments, depending on their size, as well as protect the president’s ability to shrink national monuments under law.
“Under this new, tiered framework, no longer would we have to blindly trust the judgement or fear the whims of any president,” Bishop said.
President Donald Trump ordered a review of past designations made under the Antiquities Act that covered 100,000 acres or more.
The White House is currently drafting a final report on the designations after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke reviewed the sites over the summer. President Donald Trump ordered Zinke’s review in April. Zinke gave the White House his recommendations on rolling back some of the national monuments in late August.
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