Subcommittee Chairmen Respond to Antiquities Act Reform Legislation

The Committee has marked up H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“The Constitution gives to Congress alone the jurisdiction over public lands. While the executive should be able to move swiftly to protect small archeological sites from imminent threat of looting or desecration, the decision over whether to set aside vast portions of land in perpetuity should only be made after the lengthy debate, public input and accountability that are the unique attributes of the legislative branch,” Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.  

“Our government works best when it works with the people it serves to accomplish objectives for the common good. For too long, our leaders have not adhered to these principles. The ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ seeks to protect the public’s interests from executive overreach through collaboration with local stakeholders, comprehensive review of monument designations and congressional direction on any future presidential monument reductions. I thank Chairman Bishop for his leadership on this issue and look forward to passage of this important legislation,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) stated.

“When Teddy Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act, his intent was to set aside unique areas of land, not to cutoff millions of acres for the federal government to control that produces no revenue or benefit – all while hurting local governments. Through the years, the abuse of this power has snowballed to a point where President Obama designated more acreage during his Presidency than all other Presidents combined. This process unfairly eliminates local input altogether and severely limits the public’s access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities as well as reasonable resource development on their public lands. It is important that the decision to designate or expand national monuments is returned to Congress, where the local citizens and communities can have a say,” Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.

“This legislation secures a future for locally supported national monuments, checked executive authority, and empowered local governments. The original intent of the Act is upheld and strengthened with measures that bring us into the twenty-first century. I firmly believe this will provide the accountability we need when it comes to protecting our lands,” Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated.

“Regardless of political affiliation, presidents on either side of the aisle shouldn’t be able to create massive new national monuments by executive fiat without local public input. It is, after all, the people living near these national monuments that are most affected by their creation. Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the people that use those lands are intimately involved in the process. Chairman Bishop’s ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ protects private property rights and empowers local stakeholders while also including important clarifying definitions that should have been included in the original law. I am grateful for his strong leadership on this issue and am proud to be a cosponsor,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.

Bishop Statement on Antiquities Act Reform Bill

Chairman Bishop announced the introduction and markup of the H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act (CAP Act). He released the following statement

“The 1906 Antiquities Act was originally intended as an executive tool to protect historical and archeological artifacts and structures under threat. Regrettably, this worthy goal has been manipulated for ulterior political purposes. Today the Act is too often used as an excuse for presidents to unilaterally lock up vast tracts of public land without any mechanism for people to provide input or voice concerns. This is wrong.  

“This legislation provides for accountability in the Act’s uses. It modernizes the law to restore its intent, allowing for the protection of actual antiquities without disenfranchisement of local voices and perspectives. It standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.

“If my colleagues are serious about their calls for accountability under this Act – no matter which party controls the White House – they will support this bill.”

Committee Passes Legislation to Require Transparency, Public Input in Antiquities Act

The House Committee on Natural Resources passed H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or the “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.

“Congress never intended to give one individual the power to unilaterally seize enormous swathes of our nation’s public lands… Our problem isn’t President Obama or President Trump. It’s the underlying law – a statute that provides authority to dictate national monument decisions in secrecy and without public input. The only path to the accountability we all seek – no matter which party controls the White House – is to amend the Act itself,” Bishop stated.

“Under this new, tiered framework, no longer would we have to blindly trust the judgement or fear the whims of any president. The bill ensures a reasonable degree of consultation with local stakeholders and an open public process would be required by law. It strengthens the president’s authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.

“Ultimately, if enacted, it will strengthen the original intent of the law while also providing much needed accountability.”   

Click here to view Chairman Bishop’s full opening statement.
Click here to view full markup action.
Click here for more information on H.R. 3990.  

VIDEO: Fake News media lying about ‘national parks’

Teddy Roosevelt would not recognize the bill that he signed into law all those years ago in 1906. That’s because the Antiquities Act has been savaged beyond recognition by repeated executive abuse. Does working to rectify that abuse, through congressional action or otherwise, constitute an attack on our country’s treasured national parks?

While there are some who intentionally conflate monuments and parks, using the media as their echo chamber of misinformation, the answer, of course, is no.

Chairman Rob Bishop, a former school teacher, takes us back to the classroom for a brief lesson on the dramatic differences between the two.

(HOUSE COMMITTEE ON NATURAL RESOURCES)

Instead of canceling Obama land grab, Trump admin scales it back

By Timothy Gardner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Monday he has recommended that President Donald Trump reduce the size of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah – a move that drew quick fire from conservationists but was supported by mining and drilling interests.

The 1.35 million acre (5,463 square kms) area, designated by former President Barack Obama during his final days in office and named for its iconic twin buttes, is the first of 27 national monuments to be reviewed by the Trump administration as part of a plan to increase development on federal lands.

“My job is to make sure that I … reflect the concerns of Utah, and reflect the concerns of the taxpayers and the public who own the lands, and I think we’ve done that,” Zinke told reporters in a teleconference about his interim recommendation sent to Trump on Saturday. Zinke toured Utah for four days before making the recommendation.

His report said that the Antiquities Act, used by past presidents to declare monuments, should cover the “smallest area compatible” with protecting important sites.

“Therefore… the Secretary of the Interior recommends that the existing boundary of the (Bears Ears) be modified to be consistent with the intent of the act.”

Rather than designating a vast monument, as Obama did, “it would have been more appropriate to identify and separate the areas that have significant objects to be protected to meet the purposes of the Act,” Zinke’s report said.

More study is necessary to determine how much smaller Bears Ears should be, Zinke said, and that decision will not be made until all of the 27 monuments are reviewed.

Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, said Zinke’s recommendation was “nothing less than an attack on the future of all American monuments, parks and public lands,” and was “against the wishes of the overwhelming majority of Americans.”

A public comment period that closed in late May generated hundreds of thousands of comments, with the majority expressing hope that monuments like Bears Ears remain protected.

Zinke also recommended that tribes be allowed to co-manage “cultural areas” within the resized monument – a nod to Native Americans who had lobbied for protections for the territory – and that Congress review conservation policies in the area.

His recommendation to Trump set the tone for the administration’s broader review, triggered by an executive order in April.

Trump had argued that previous administrations “abused” their right to designate monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906 and put millions of acres of land, mainly in western states, off limits to drilling, mining, logging and ranching without adequate input from locals.

The review is likely to add fuel to a heated national debate over Washington’s role in America’s wildest spaces. Environmentalists and tribal groups support federal oversight, but many state political leaders, conservatives and industry groups say the lands should generate money for business, creating jobs, or yielding revenue for education and other public services.

While the land encompassed by the Bears Ears monument is not believed to contain huge amounts of coal, oil or gas, several other monuments on Zinke’s review list do – making the Bears Ears decision symbolically important to industry groups.

Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, representing oil and gas companies, said Zinke’s approach was sensible. “It’s clear that Bears Ears was an overreach, and was much larger than necessary to protect cultural resources.”

 

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis and Dan Grebler)

 

Interior Secretary to make proposal on Bears Ears monument

By Valerie Volcovici

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is due to make a recommendation to the White House on whether to rescind or resize Utah’s Bears Ears monument, setting the tone for the administration’s broader study of which lands protected by past presidents should be reopened to development.

The 1.35 million-acre monument, created by former president Barack Obama at the end of his term and named after its iconic twin buttes, is the first of 27 national monuments that will be evaluated by the Department of the Interior after President Donald Trump ordered the review in April.

The deadline for Zinke’s recommendation on Bears Ears is June 10, though an Interior Department official did not say when the recommendation would be made public.

Trump had argued that previous administrations “abused” their right to designate national monuments under the U.S. Antiquities Act of 1906, and put millions of acres of land, mainly in western states, off limits to drilling, mining, logging and ranching without adequate input from locals.

Conservation groups, meanwhile, have called Trump’s effort to alter existing national monuments illegal and irresponsible, and have vowed to challenge him in court.

“Whatever comes out of these recommendations will give us an insight into how this administration takes its responsibilities to protect public lands and uphold conservation mandates,” said Nada Culver, senior counsel of the Wilderness Society, an environmental advocacy group.

 

HEATED DEBATE

The review taps into a heated national debate over Washington’s role in America’s wildest spaces: environmentalists and tribal groups support federal oversight, but many state political leaders, conservatives, and industry groups say the lands should be generating money for business, creating jobs, or yielding revenue for education and other public services.

Bears Ears was created after years of lobbying by a coalition of five tribes, who say the area is sacred. Republicans, like Senator Orin Hatch of Utah, have argued, however, that Obama’s designation of the Bears Ears monument had weakened education funding in the state through its School and Institutional Trust Lands system – which delivers revenues from land development to schools.

While the land encompassed by the Bears Ears monument is not believed to contain huge amounts of coal, oil or gas, several other monuments on Zinke’s review list do – making the Bears Ears decision important symbolically to industry groups.

“Who is to say that, in the future, a president couldn’t just put a whole basin under monument designation,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance, representing oil and gas companies.

 

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Andrew Bolton)

 

Zinke Submits Report on Bears Ears, Extends Public Comment Period

WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted a 45-day interim report on Bears Ears National Monument to President Donald J. Trump on Saturday, June 10, 2017, in accordance with the April 26, 2017, Executive Order (EO). The order directs the Secretary to review monuments designated under the Antiquities Act between January 1, 1996, and the present date that are 100,000 acres or more in size, or any monument the Secretary deems to have been created without appropriate public input. The EO also directs the Secretary to submit an interim report regarding Bears Ears specifically to the President no more than 45 days from the date of the EO.

The EO states: “Within 45 days of the date of this order, the Secretary shall provide an interim report to the President… The interim report shall include recommendations for such Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law as the Secretary may consider appropriate to carry out the policy set forth in section 1 of this order.”

“I spent a lot of time on the ground in Utah, talking with people and understanding the natural and cultural significance of the area. There is no doubt that it is drop-dead gorgeous country and that it merits some degree of protection, but designating a monument that – including state land- encompasses almost 1.5 million-acres where multiple-use management is hindered or prohibited is not the best use of the land and is not in accordance with the intention of the Antiquities Act,” said Secretary Ryan Zinke. “I’ve submitted my 45-day interim report to President Trump expressing my belief that the monument needs to be right-sized and that it is absolutely critical that an appropriate part be co-managed by the Tribal nations. I also recommend that Congress take action to protect some areas.”

Regarding ongoing management and consultation with Tribal interests, Secretary Zinke said: “Co-management will be absolutely key going forward and I recommend that the monument, and especially the areas of significant cultural interest, be co-managed by the Tribal nations. I am grateful representatives from the Tribal governments met with me in Utah and am optimistic for our future.”

In May, Secretary Zinke traveled to Utah and held a four-day listening tour across the state to learn more about Bears Ears National Monument and the neighboring Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. When accounting for state and private land, the perimeter of Bears Ears encompasses almost 1.5 million acres. Grand Staircase is 1.7 million acres.

The Secretary met with State, local, and Tribal stakeholders and toured the monument by air, car, foot, and horseback. He met with elected officials from Tribal, federal, state, and local communities. He also met with representatives from agriculture, conservation, historic preservation, and tourism sectors, as well as private citizens. The Secretary also held daily press briefings during the trip.

The Secretary met with the Bears Ears InterTribal Coalition while visiting Bears Ears National Monument on May 7, and the Acting Deputy Secretary held a four-hour follow-up meeting with the Bears Ears Commission and the InterTribal Coalition on May 25.

Prior to the trip to Utah in early May, Secretary Zinke opened up a formal public comment period where members of the public could submit their statements regarding all monuments to the Secretary. The was the first time ever that a formal public comment period was set up for monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

“Local input is absolutely critical when it comes to federal land management decisions and as such, I’m extending the public comment period for Bears Ears. I want every advocate to have their voice heard,” said Secretary Zinke.

Due to the 120-day final review period for Bears Ears National Monument, the formal public comment period for Bears Ears will be extended through July 10th and will close with the overall comment period. Comments may be submitted on regulations.gov or by traditional mail. If an individual submitted a comment on Bears Ears during the initial comment period, they do not need to resubmit.

Executive Order 13792:

Executive Order 13792 of April 26, 2017 (82 FR 20429, May 1, 2017), directs the Secretary of the Interior to review certain National Monuments designated or expanded under the Antiquities Act of 1906, 54 U.S.C. 320301-320303 (Act). Specifically, Section 2 of the Executive Order directs the Secretary to conduct a review of all Presidential designations or expansions of designations under the Antiquities Act made since January 1, 1996, where the designation covers more than 100,000 acres, where the designation after expansion covers more than 100,000 acres, or where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders, to determine whether each designation or expansion conforms to the policy set forth in section 1 of the order. Among other provisions, Section 1 states that designations should reflect the Act’s “requirements and original objectives” and “appropriately balance the protection of landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.”  82 FR 20429 (May 1, 2017). 

In making the requisite determinations, the Secretary is directed to consider:

(i)    the requirements and original objectives of the Act, including the Act’s requirement that reservations of land not exceed “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected”;
(ii)   whether designated lands are appropriately classified under the Act as “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, [or] other objects of historic or scientific interest”;
(iii)  the effects of a designation on the available uses of designated Federal lands, including consideration of the multiple-use policy of section 102(a)(7) of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701(a)(7)), as well as the effects on the available uses of Federal lands beyond the monument boundaries;
(iv)   the effects of a designation on the use and enjoyment of non-Federal lands within or beyond monument boundaries;
(v)    concerns of State, tribal, and local governments affected by a designation, including the economic development and fiscal condition of affected States, tribes, and localities;
(vi)   the availability of Federal resources to properly manage designated areas; and
(vii)  such other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate.
82 FR 20429-20430 (May 1, 2017)