For more than a century, the President of the United States has had the power to unilaterally designate federal lands as a National Monument without the consent of Congress, local governments or affected citizens. National Monument designations, under the Antiquities Act of 1906, are meant to ensure the proper care and management of historic landmarks and other objects of historic or scientific interest. The Act also states that the monuments shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects.
In recent decades, presidents from both parties have used the power of the Act to designate hundreds of thousands of acres, and in some cases millions of acres, at a time. In Utah, the size of the two largest monument designations - Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument -amounts to more than 3.5 million acres, or roughly the size of the state of Connecticut. This scale of designation goes far beyond the executive authority that Congress originally intended. Such abuse restricts or even prohibits economic opportunity and removes decision making from the states and private citizens. These designations have affected water rights, grazing rights and access to state and private lands. Learn more here.
We urge the executive branch to discontinue designation of any national monument under the Antiquities Act until the proposal is first vetted and approved by Congress, landowners and local governments affected by these decisions. In asking the Department of Interior to rescind the 'Bears Ears National Monument', it is understood that it will most likely lead to a legal challenge to the U.S. Supreme Court. This legal challenge could be beneficial if it leads the court to define limits of executive authority under the Antiquities Act, which would provide more certainty to livestock ranching interests.
To ensure consideration, written comments relating to the Bears Ears National Monument must be submitted before May 26, 2017. Written comments relating to all other National Monuments must be submitted before July 10, 2017. You may submit written comments online at http://www.regulations.gov by entering "DOI-2017-0002" in the search bar and clicking "Search," or by mail to Monument Review, MS-1530, U.S. Department of the Interior, 1849 C Street NW., Washington, DC 20240.