Trump said former presidents abused the Antiquities Act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and other activities - a headwind to his plan to ramp up USA energy production.
Sunset Arch rises from a sagebrush and slickrock flat in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Until we see what the president will sign, this fight is not over, and New Mexicans should keep calling and writing and making their voices heard. He ordered the Interior Department in April to identify which of 27 monuments designated by past presidents should be rescinded or resized to make way for development.
Utah Republican leaders had complained that the monuments locked up too much federal land.
Meanwhile, two Utah congressmen said Tuesday that they will introduce legislation to create a modest national park at Grand Staircase and allow Native Americans and local residents to manage the land in Bears Ears. "All five tribes will be standing together united to defend Bears Ears", said Natalie Landreth, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, which believes the cut would violate the Antiquities Act. Officials believe some of the protected land should be legally set aside for logging rather than monuments, Zinke said, and they're considering what to do about private land within the monument borders.
The legality of Trump's decision and of the ensuing lawsuits remains murky, as they center on the rarely used Antiquities Act signed into law by former President Teddy Roosevelt in 1906. "I've come to Utah to take a very historic action to reverse federal overreach and restore the rights of this land to your citizens".
Environmentalists and tribes have already sued over that decision, arguing the federal Antiquities Act does not give the president the power to reduce previously declared monuments.
LePage said he didn't want to expend resources on promoting the monument until Trump made a final decision on the future of the property.
"Reducing the size of monument would help free up a lot of land that has been under oppression", said Mike Noel, a state representative from Kane County, more than half of which is occupied by Grand Staircase.
The reasoning behind the move is to designate as protected "the smallest area compatible with the protection of the objects of scientific or historic interest", and the proclamation also opens the newly public lands to "disposition under all laws relating to mineral and geothermal leasing; and location, entry, and patent under the mining laws". "An attack on one national monument is an attack on every national monument". "On Wednesday, we will be filing a lawsuit challenging the president's revocation of Bears Ears National Monument".