Monday, March 24, 2014

House Republicans Push Bill Curbing Obama's Ability To Designate National Monuments

The House is expected to vote Wednesday on a Republican-backed bill that would make it more difficult for the president to declare new national monuments. The bill, "Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of Natural Monuments Act," was authored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah). It would put in place new specifications on what a president must do in order to use powers granted under the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law that allows the president to designate "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States" as monuments. Republican President Theodore Roosevelt, the "father of conservation," signed the Antiquities Act into law. Since then, 16 presidents from both parties have used the law to designate new protections for national landmarks. Obama designated his 10th new monument on March 11, adding a shoreline portion to the California Coastal National Monument. He designated five monuments in March 2013, as well as the César E. Chávez National Monument in October 2012, Chimney Rock in Sept. 2012, Ford Ord in April 2012 and Fort Monroe in Nov. 2011. Republicans in the House have balked at the Obama administration's use of the law, however. Bishop, who serves as chair of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, called Obama's designation of the new portion of the Coastal California National Monument "purely political" and argued that it "undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation." His bill would require additional environmental analysis and public comment before the president could declare a new monument, and would only allow the president to declare one monument per state per term, unless he or she gets approval from Congress. Environmentalists, meanwhile, have dubbed Bishop's measure the "No New National Parks" bill. They say the House bill puts up unnecessary obstacles to protecting the country's notable places...more

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