Thursday, July 14, 2016

House considers bill limiting president’s ability to name new national monuments

The U.S. House is poised to pass legislation Thursday that essentially would bar the president from naming a new national monument in the Bears Ears region and other parts of Utah. Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, pushed the language to prohibit the president from using the power of the Antiquities Act to preserve areas in parts of eight states, mainly in the West. The bill would not take away the authority to name monuments, but it would prohibit any funding for doing so in those areas, essentially removing the ability to add a monument. "I am committed to continuing to use the power of the purse and my position on the Appropriations Committee to rein in regulatory overreach at the Interior Department," Stewart said. The bill's language forbids money being spent on a new monument in 17 of Utah's 29 counties, including San Juan County, where conservationists and tribal leaders are pushing President Barack Obama to designate a Bears Ears National Monument covering nearly 2 million acres. The Obama administration issued a veto threat on the legislation, specifically calling out the language associated with the Antiquities Act. "This would debilitate a successful program that has been used to protect areas critical to the nation's natural and cultural heritage, such as Bandelier National Monument and the Statue of Liberty," the White House said. Obama may not have to veto the legislation, because its chances in the Senate remain unclear. While Republicans control the chamber, Democrats have enough votes to block measures and have in the past refused to support any limits on the Antiquities Act...more

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