A top House Republican urged President-elect Donald Trump to rescind the Obama administration’s decisions to put millions of acres of land and ocean under stricter federal control by turning them into National Monuments.
Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop wants Trump to cut back on the amount of land locked up through national monument designations. President Barack Obama has used the Antiquities Act to designate 265 million acres of public land as monuments while in office.
“It’s never been done before and that’s why people are saying, ‘you can’t do it.’ Of course you can do it. It’s always been implied,” Bishop said, according to Politico.
Obama has created or expanded dozens of monuments, putting more land under Antiquities Act protection than any other U.S. president in history, sparking concern from lawmakers he’s abusing his authority.
The White House and its environmental allies argue Obama needed to use the act to preserve historic sites and pristine landscapes from being developed or being impacted by global warming. But locals often see national monuments as a federal “land grab.”
Most recently, Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the Hawaiian coast to 582,578 square miles — four times its original size.
Just days before, Obama designated a 87,500-acre site in Maine as a monument, despite local opposition.
Locals fiercely opposed the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument as such designations make it harder to log, ranch or farm on federal lands. Maine lawmakers passed legislation blocking the federal government from having exclusive rights over national monuments within state lines.
Bishop, the chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, has been pushing back against the Obama administration’s use of national monument designations. It’s unclear, however, if he’s spoken to Trump’s transition team about national monuments.
“If you can tell me who’s on the transition team, I can tell whether I’ve spoken to them or not,” Bishop said.
But the success of rolling back Obama-created national monuments could depend on who Trump appoints as secretary of the Department of the Interior.
It’s unclear who Trump will pick to head the Interior Department, but news reports suggest the short list of names include: former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Lucas Oil co-founder Forrest Lucas, former Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell and former House natural resources committee chair Rep. Richard Pombo.
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