President Trump Shows He Is Committed To Making Sure Our Land Policies Make Sense.
November 9 – WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressional Western Caucus Chairman Paul A. Gosar D.D.S. (AZ-04), Western Caucus Members Andy Biggs (AZ-05) and Doug LaMalfa (CA-01), and Congressman Daniel Webster (FL-11) issued the following statements after 24 Members of Congress sent a letter to President Trump applauding his monument review and offering recommendations for monuments:
“By issuing his Executive Order to review recent monument designations, President Trump showed he was committed to making sure our land policies make sense and work in the national economic interest,” said Congressman Gosar. “More than that, though, his action is demonstrative of his Administration’s commitment to the United States being a nation ruled by the laws, executed faithfully – not by one man doing as he pleases. There is overwhelming reason to believe the previous Administration did not share any of these goals, as evidenced by President Obama’s frenzied use of the Antiquities Act. Today, we are grateful to President Trump for considering these recommendations as we continue working to right past wrongs on the path to American energy dominance and economic prosperity.”
Congressman Biggs stated, “The Western Caucus is working closely with the Trump administration to provide comments and recommendations on the twenty-seven monuments under review. These efforts are a good first step to overturn some of President Obama’s unconstitutional land grabs. Moving forward, our Caucus will be working together to reform the outdated 1906 Antiquities Act. It is time to bring more jobs and economic freedom to the West, and I am confident that President Trump and Secretary Zinke share our affinity to see this happen.”
“The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to set aside the smallest area of land possible in order to protect sites of historical or other significance, however, those parameters have been largely ignored in recent years,” said Congressman LaMalfa. “Under previous Presidents, most notably the Obama Administration, this abuse of Executive power has truly gotten out of hand. In the case of the Cascade-Siskiyou monument that now bleeds into California’s 1st district, unaccountable expansion now limits the public’s access to the land and limits the federal government’s ability to properly manage it. I’m happy to see the President is serious about reviewing and reforming this antiquated law, and I hope this recommendation to accept local input is considered thoroughly.”
“President Obama’s administration abused the powers of the Antiquities Act with unprecedented monument designations that removed millions of acres of land from productive economic use and local control. Hundreds of millions of these acres included marine monuments in the Pacific; a similar future monument designation in the Gulf could destroy Florida’s tourist and fishing economy. I am encouraged that President Trump and Secretary Zinke are reviewing these Obama-era actions and urge them to take appropriate action to rescind or reduce many of these monument designations. We must work with the Trump administration to reform the Antiquities Act to prevent future abuse. I am confident we can find solutions that preserve and protect archeological sites, which is the purpose of the Antiquities Act, without harming our growing economy,” said Congressman Webster.
President Obama exceeded the intent of the Antiquities Act more than any other president in the history of the United States. With designations including the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the 300,000 acre Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, President Obama designated or expanded 34 national monuments, more than any other president in history. These unilateral declarations locked-up 553,555,000 million acres of land and water.
National monument designations under the Antiquities Act typically have significant consequences that negatively affect grazing rights, water rights, wildfire prevention and other land management activities. These declarations also result in some of the most restrictive land-use regulations possible and also greatly impact hunting, fishing, OHV and other recreational activities.
Unilateral designations that circumvent Congress typically result in devastating consequences for rural America and our future economic prosperity. For every new acre claimed for the federal government, there is an acre of private, economically-productive land lost. Such actions exacerbate challenges for local communities to fund public necessities like education and infrastructure, since lands added to the federal rolls can no longer be taxed.