It’s indisputable that past presidents have used the Antiquities Act to create national monuments. The worst presidents in terms of misusing the Antiquities Act were President Obama, President Clinton and President George W. Bush. It’s fair to say that each of those presidents misused the Antiquities Act to sidestep the original intent of the law. Rob Bishop’s op-ed highlights how past presidents have essentially ignored the law in creating national monuments.
In Bishop’s op-ed, he wrote “A few statistics can illustrate the scope of the overreach. Between 1906 and 1943, the law functioned basically as designed. Presidents respected the intent of the act. Most monuments were smaller and had clear boundaries with real antiquities inside them. By contrast, designations under the act last year averaged 739,645 acres, or more than 47 times the size of those created 110 years ago. President Teddy Roosevelt was the first president to use the act. He used it 18 times for a combined total of 1.5 million acres. President Barack Obama used it 37 times to designate 553.6 million acres of land and water.”
Chairman Bishop didn’t just complain about the problem. He’s proposed a solution:
Last week, I introduced legislation to correct these failures and permanently address my colleagues’ concerns. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act would, like the writers of the Antiquities Act intended, allow the president to unilaterally designate land up to 640 acres. Monument designations between 640 and 10,000 acres would be subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Designations between 10,000 and 85,000 acres would be required to obtain the approval of all county commissioners, state legislatures, and governors in the affected area. The bill also standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.
Chairman Bishop’s legislation is well-written and desperately needed. Unfortunately, there’s no chance it will pass. That’s because it will get stopped by the Democrats’ filibuster in the Senate. Their environmental activist friends will insist that the bill be stopped.
That’s because these environmental activists want big, unaccountable government. These activists are almost always Democrats, though a handful are Republicans. These activists have proven time and again that they prefer it when government tramples over people in favor of the ‘greater good’ of saving Mother Earth. These activists don’t like the rule of law. Here’s proof:
In 1996, prior to the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, Clinton’s then-Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Katie McGinty stated the following, “I’m increasingly of the view that we should just drop these utah [sic] ideas. we [sic] do not really know how the enviros will react and I do think there is a danger of ‘abuse’ of the withdraw/antiquities authorities especially because these lands are not really endangered.”
If McGinty’s name sounds familiar, it’s possibly because she ran for Senate in 2016 against Republican Pat Toomey. Thankfully, Sen. Toomey defeated her. But I digress.
It’s disheartening to see Democrats trample over the law. It’s especially disheartening that Democrats do that for a few extra campaign contributions. That’s how cold-hearted Democrats are. This is what’s most disgusting:
The monument was designated in the waning months of Clinton’s re-election campaign. Its total acreage: 1.7 million — three times the size of Rhode Island. No town halls, no public meetings, and no public comment sessions were ever held in Utah. No input was solicited from local stakeholders or land managers in the area. Utah’s governor, congressional delegation, public officials, and residents from across the state all expressed outrage at the lack of prior consultation or warning of the designation. In what feels like symbolism, the proclamation wasn’t even signed in Utah; it was signed in Arizona.
That’s the opposite of transparency. That’s proof that Democrats don’t like accountable government.