Energy

Joy Villa Caves On Trump’s Rollback Of Massive Federal Land Grabs

REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

Singer Joy Villa called on President Donald Trump Sunday to undo cuts he made to two national monuments in Utah and withhold from rolling back designations in the future.

Villa, a vocal supporter of the president, wrote an op-ed for Fox News defending past presidents’ expansive use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate millions of acres of public land as national monuments. She insisted Trump use executive authority under the act to designate more monuments.

“President Trump has a remarkable opportunity to honor our history, our national treasures and our culture,” Villa wrote. “I urge him in this vital time to leave protections for our national monuments in place and to use the Antiquities Act to preserve our lands and waters.”

Trump announced in December he would cut back the designations of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments. The monuments encompassed 1.35 million acres and 1.9 million acres, respectively, and Trump’s order cut the designations by roughly 50 percent and 85 percent. In the process, Trump created five new, smaller national monuments in the area formerly occupied by Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

“You know the best how to take of your land, you know how to protect it, and you know best how to protect this land for many, many years to come,” Trump said in December. “Your timeless bond with the outdoors should not be replaced with the whims of regulators thousands and thousands of miles away.”

Local Utah ranchers and tribal members defended Trump’s action, celebrating greater local control and more flexible land management practices made possible by the cuts.

Environmentalists, corporate conservationists and national tribal interests filed lawsuits against the Trump administration attempting to block the cutbacks.

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recently advised the president to significantly shrink two national monuments in Utah, and the beautiful Cascade-Siskiyou is likely next on the chopping block,” Villa wrote. “I love President Trump and truly believe in Making America Great Again, but Secretary Zinke is wrong to think we can do that by weakening one of the bedrocks of our country’s heritage.”

“Secretary Zinke has been influenced by special interests and out of touch career politicians,” she added, echoing accusations made some many environmental groups. The mining industry has displayed little interest in developing the recently opened land, however.

The land formerly covered by Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante remains under federal control and is still protected under federal environmental regulations, administration and congressional officials point out.

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