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Lawsuits Over Trump’s National Monument Cutbacks Will Be Settled In DC, Judge Rules

Reuters

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Tim Pearce Energy Reporter

A federal judge ruled Tuesday that lawsuits over President Donald Trump’s rollback of two national monuments in Utah would be heard in Washington, D.C.

Judge Tanya Chutkan denied the Trump administration’s request to move three lawsuits to a Utah court. Chutkan did not give a reason for her decision, The Hill reported. (RELATED: Patagonia Is Suing Trump For Reversing Obama’s Massive Federal Land Grab)

Trump administration attorneys argued the cases should be moved to a federal court in Utah because the two national monuments that were changed are located in the state and most affect Utah residents.

“Transfer is warranted because that strong local interest outweighs the District of Columbia’s tie to the claims and plaintiffs’ selection of this forum,” administration attorneys argued in a court motion.

The Sierra Club, an environmental activist group, was “pleased” with the court decision, the group’s Utah Director Ashley Soltysiak said in a statement.

“These cases highlight the assault on public lands in our state and have critical implications for every national monument in this country,” Soltysiak said. “This represents an important step forward for the protection public lands across the country in the face of a callous and greedy administration.”

Trump announced he would reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in December. The cuts went into effect Feb. 2, shrinking Bears Ears by roughly 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by nearly half.

Environmentalists and tribal leaders filed several lawsuits against the federal government in the days following Trump’s announcement. The lawsuits contend that, because the Antiquities Act gives the president the power to create national monuments but does not explicitly say the president can cut back national monuments, Trump’s order to change the designations of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante is illegal.

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