WASHINGTON, D.C. – An internal document leaked from the Department of Interior (DOI) indicates the Administration is in the process of considering whether to designate as many as 17 National Monuments located throughout the West. This document has Western Caucus Chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) and many other Western Caucus members concerned that these sections of Western land and natural energy resources may be the next target of the Obama Administration’s radical agenda.
The DOI document mentions designations and land acquisitions in 11 different western states: Utah, Montana, New Mexico, California, Nevada, Arizona, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Wyoming. Approximately 13 million acres of land (possibly more) are at risk for potential designation.
“The Antiquities Act has long been misused and abused beyond its original intent. If Western members seem worried it is because we have been burned by Presidential designations in the past. The designation process should be submitted to an open and transparent process,” said Rep. Bishop. “If such designations were to be implemented, ranching, energy production, recreation and future tax revenue for local communities could be significantly harmed. In light of such significant implications, stakeholders, local officials and community residents deserve the opportunity to provide input and voice their opinions. Anything short of that would be completely irresponsible,” said Congressman Bishop, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus and Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands (UT-01).
In 1996 President Clinton, with virtually no warning, designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah, a 2,600-square-mile tract containing one of the U.S.’s largest known reserves of "clean coal."
"The arrogance of the Administration is fully on display in yet another ploy to make Alaska the nation's largest national park," said Rep. Young. "When the Alaska National Interest Land Claims Act was signed into law it contained a "No More" clause, which essentially said the Administration can't do what they're suggesting! Only by an Act of Congress can more of Alaska's lands be withdrawn into conservation system units, not through Administrative action." In Alaska 'no more' means 'no more' and if this Administration thinks they can use underhanded tactics to ensure that the land is kept 'pristine' enough for their biggest fundraisers to go hiking and mountain biking they better think again,” said Congressman Don Young (AK-At Large).
“This document exposes the hidden maneuvering of the Obama Administration to potentially lock- up tremendous amounts of public and private land without public knowledge or input. This is a gross violation of the promise of transparency and open, public decision-making. The only thing this Administration isn’t trying to hide is its unwavering commitment to expanding government every chance it gets. While the President may be frustrated with his inability to pass his agenda through a Democrat-controlled Congress, he should not try to score political victories through secretly-plotted unilateral executive declarations that may please some special interest groups but will harm the livelihoods of countless American families and communities across the country,” said House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Doc Hastings (WA-04).
“Any federal action that could lead to limited access should be done in an open and public manner using extraordinary caution. Stakeholders, residents, and local officials should have ample opportunity to provide their input and opinions on the proposal—as well as to evaluate what the impact on local economies would be in the wake of a designation. The fact that this Administration is already circulating internal memos to bypass Congress and the public process is troubling. There should never be a rush to develop proposals that will have long lasting impacts on the local communities and county residents. The Administration should work closely with members of Congress in an open and transparent process before deciding to designate any national monuments,” said Congressman Dean Heller (NV-02).
“This Administration just doesn’t get it. Americans want jobs, not more federal bureaucracy and red tape. But that is exactly what they’ll get if the Administration locks up even more of our energy-rich land in the West. Our natural resources hold the key to economic growth and prosperity. If the Administration puts them off limits, it will kill jobs and cut off important revenues for state and local governments,” said Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO-05).
“Designating vast swaths of federal land is an antiquated process. This all-encompassing method has been overwhelmingly rejected by Congress and the American people. I am deeply concerned with the Obama Administration’s intent to forgo local, state, and congressional participation. Federal land designations have a wide-ranging impact on local communities and states. It is the role of Congress to work with all relevant parties to alleviate concerns and develop compromises. I urge the Administration to reconsider their current path, and allow the legislative process to take its course,” said Congressman Jason Chaffetz (UT-03).