Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Bears Ears is waiting for a ruling: Will we protect this land or exploit it?

...After Trump’s order, can we protect this land for future generations? That question lies at the heart of a lawsuit pending before U.S. District Judge Tanya S. Chutkan in Washington D.C. A coalition of tribes and environmental groups sued Trump in December after he announced his decision to dismantle Bears Ears by chopping it into two smaller “units.” The president’s new monument boundaries purposefully pave the way for uranium mining and oil and gas drilling leases, according to documents uncovered through a series of Freedom of Information Act requests, despite denials to the contrary by Trump and his cronies. The president acted unlawfully and exceeded his authority, the plaintiffs claim, violating the separation of powers in the Constitution and the Antiquities Act of 1906, which authorizes presidents to designate monuments and was originally written to prevent the looting of Indian artifacts. Only Congress, not a president, has the power to revoke or modify national monuments, they claim. If the courts ultimately rule that presidents can shrink already designated monuments, none of them — from Muir Woods to the Statue of Liberty — is safe. Chutkan must first decide whether to allow the case to be transferred to federal court in Utah, as Trump’s Justice Department lawyers have requested, or to keep it in the District of Columbia, as the Indian tribes prefer. They believe the fate of America’s public lands are a national concern, not one state’s. So Bears Ears waits...MORE

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