We’ve seen this movie before. A lame duck president uses the Antiquities Act to declare huge swaths of public lands off limits so he can have an environmental legacy. Right up until the night before he declared the Grand Staircase Escalante a national monument, the Clinton White House told the Utah congressional delegation no such plans were in the works. And in his final month in office, President Bill Clinton declared seven national monuments.
I fear the Obama administration — urged on by outside interests groups and wealthy corporations seeking a marketing niche — is up to the same “dark-of-night” declaration on the Owyhee River canyon.
Last Thursday night, in Adrian, more than 500 people turned out to a public meeting organized by state Rep. Cliff Bentz to voice their deep concerns about this possibility. Extra chairs had to be brought in to the local gymnasium, and people were still standing in the aisles.
One person who wasn’t there? Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. Although I called on her or a senior representative to attend the meeting, no senior members of the administration attended.
If they had, they would have heard a message loud and clear: Residents of eastern Oregon don’t want another “Washington, D.C., knows best,” federal designation that would further destroy our way of life.
Yet, despite this public outcry, I believe the administration is playing hide the ball from the public. The Obama administration needs to come clean about what is has planned for these millions of acres of land in eastern Oregon...
Greg Walden represents Oregon’s Second Congressional District, which covers 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon.