Bennet statement opposing president's Antiquities Act executive order

Bennet statement opposing president's Antiquities Act executive order

A review could upend protections put in place in Montana and other states under a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act that authorizes the president to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use.

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke echoed that uncertainty.

A legal analysis commissioned by the National Parks Conservation Association says no, pointing to a 1938 opinion by then-Attorney General Homer Cummings that a monument designation has the force of law and can be reversed only by Congress.

"Over the years, the original intent of the Antiquities Act has morphed well beyond the original intent of the Act, which was to preserve the "smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected". The monuments to be reviewed were all established under sitting USA presidents under the Antiquities Act of 1906. He protected more than 553 million acres of public land and water during his tenure. Zinke will be working over the next four months to review some of the nation's "National Monuments" Zinke clarifies which ones are being considered.

"We will continue to defend these designations in Colorado and the more than 150 additional national monuments around the country".

But under Trump's new order, it is unclear if African-American national monument sites like those recognizing the Freedom Riders, a former school in SC for freed slaves and the church where four little Black girls died in an Alabama church bombing - all designated as national monuments by Obama - could be at risk.

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Major sites under review include the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Bear Ears National Monument in Utah.The 500,000 hectare Bears Ears site is home to Native Americans, who oppose the review. Most presidents since then have designated additional monuments.

According to Earthjustice, the seven national monuments in California that could be threatened are Giant Sequoia, Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Sand to Snow, San Gabriel Mountains, Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains and Mojave Trails.

The Presidential Executive Order on the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act orders Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review "all Presidential designations or expansions of designations" under the 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". "And this executive order does not weaken any environmental protections on any public lands". Says Gaziano, "We think the ground is very strong for a president to revoke".

These are the 26 national monuments President Trump wants to shut down.

Nothing in the act's 111-year history suggests that Trump can shrink or abolish monuments by executive order.

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