Having expressed outrage during the campaign about Barack Obama’s jaw-dropping federal land grab, Trump ordered a Department of Interior review of a number of mislabeled “monuments” created under Obama to orchestrate this government takeover of land. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke completed a tour of the lands in question in June and released a summary of his findings at that time, so we had an idea of what was coming.
Now the final report has been completed, though it’s not yet public. Jazz Shaw at HotAir writes:
The available details show that Zinke is taking a far more gentle approach to the trimming than environmentalists feared, but at least three of these massive land grabs are on the chopping block for “alterations” and the list includes Bears Ears, arguably the worst of the bunch.
And Zinke did not say whether or not any areas of the monuments would be opened for drilling for oil, gas, or mining of other resources.
The problem is that the century-old Antiquities Act has been misused by past presidents, especially Obama, to create enormous monuments that prohibit energy development and other other private uses. Indeed, as HotAir points out, the law is very specific about what’s a monument and what’s not.
… If you want to set [land] aside from development or private use, Congress should designate it as a national park. The idea of National Monuments was clearly spelled out in the Antiquities Act and they are supposed to be unique “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.”
Every part of the legislation speaks to specific objects and features, not landscapes. And if that’s not enough for you, the act goes one step further, cautioning that such monuments be confined to, “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
Liberals are warning the Administration to expect huge legal fights if it tries to trim any of the monuments.
I suppose they are ignoring the fact that past presidents have already done so without apparent legal impediment. They also don’t seem to have actually read the Antiquities Act. But, of course, since we’re talking about Donald Trump and not Barack Obama they’ll probably be able to find some judge (most likely in the Ninth Circuit) willing to block these actions.
According to the National Park Service, no other sitting president has attempted to eliminate a national monument. And normally, that wouldn’t be a good idea — America’s most treasured places should be preserved for the public’s enjoyment. But Obama’s abuse of the law necessitated this review. At least now, maybe a few of his land grabs will get trimmed.