Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trump can scale back monument designations, experts say

 by Mateusz Perkowski

The Trump administration could sharply revise controversial national monument designations made by its predecessor, though it’s unclear such changes would be a high priority, experts say. Pro-monument environmental groups would also likely seek to counteract such moves, testing largely uncharted legal waters. While the Trump administration could not entirely revoke earlier national monument designations, their size and land use restrictions within their boundaries could be modified, said Karen Budd-Falen, an attorney who represents ranchers in public land disputes. “All that stuff is fair game for the Trump administration,” she said. “It’s pretty clear they have maneuvering room.” Theoretically, Trump could go beyond recent designations — such as the expansion of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Oregon — and amend monuments created by presidents before Obama, Budd-Falen said. “There’s not a statute of limitations or a time frame on these things,” she said. The Republican-controlled Congress could also outright overturn a national monument designation or simply excise tracts that are most problematic for ranchers and other natural resource users, said Scott Horngren, an attorney with the Western Resources Legal Center, which litigates on behalf of agriculture and timber interests. “They could use a scalpel,” said Horngren. With the multitude of contentious issues facing the Trump administration and Congress, though, it’s open to question whether they’ll want to tackle disputes over national monuments, he said. “We just don’t know that.”...more

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