Rep. Labrador Wants to Gut Presidential Authority to Create National Monuments

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Rep. Labrador Wants to Gut Presidential Authority to Create National Monuments

WASHINGTON - Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) has introduced legislation that would dramatically restrict the designation of new national monuments by requiring both congressional and state approval before a presidential designation.

H.R. 2284 is part of a broader effort by House Republicans to weaken protections on America’s public lands and allow the federal government to turn control over to states and private industry.

“This bill would eviscerate the century-old Antiquities Act and effectively prevent any new national monuments,” said Randi Spivak, public lands director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Only the most extreme kind of anti-public-lands zealot, like Raul Labrador, would believe the law that saved the Grand Canyon should be reined in.”

Congress passed the Antiquities Act of 1906 to grant the president authority to designate national monuments on federally owned land with the express purpose of protecting objects of historic and scientific importance. Over the past century, national monument designations have protected some of the country’s most iconic natural and cultural places.

Under the bill two additional laws would be required before the president declares a national monument. Both the U.S. Congress and the state legislature where the proposed national monument resides would have to affirm the president’s national monument proposal before it could take effect.

“The beauty of the Antiquities Act is that it allows the president to act decisively to protect our most amazing natural wonders so that future generations can enjoy them,” Spivak said. “If this legislation became law, the Antiquities Act would effectively be a dead letter. Of course that’s exactly what the oil, gas and timber industries want. And Raul Labrador is doing their bidding so they can drill, frack and log America’s public lands until there’s nothing left.”

Labrador’s bill comes in the wake of Trump’s order directing the Department of the Interior to review the designation of every monument designated since 1996. The review is expected to trigger dramatic changes in protections or boundaries for monuments to accommodate special interests like coal, oil, gas and logging industries.

The Center for Biological Diversity’s recent report, Public Lands Enemies, identifies the top 15 members of Congress trying to seize, destroy, dismantle and privatize America’s public lands. Labrador ranks ninth, having sponsored or cosponsored 23 anti-public lands bills and accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from logging, livestock and agribusiness industries. Collectively these members have sponsored 132 anti-public lands bills since 2011.

In the first four months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 39 bills to weaken public-lands management, turn over public lands to states or otherwise repeal protections. The vast majority of western voters across political parties support federal protection and maintenance of national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters. Federal lawmakers trying to give away such places to state and private interests are out of touch with the majority of American voters — including those in their own states.

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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