This morning, Donald Trump signed an executive order that prompts the Department of Interior to conduct a review all the National Monument designations made after January 1st 1996. The move will endanger the protection of 57 of the 129 areas that have been designated “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” in accordance with the Antiquities Act of 1906 — an act which allows the U.S. Congress or the president to declare a site of value and protect important lands. President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Act into law and protected eight national monuments during his presidency.
It seems Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah has Trump’s ear on the issue and has been pushing for President Bill Clinton’s 1996 protection Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to be scaled back, hence the micro-specific dating of the forthcoming executive order — which falls in the middle of President Clinton’s tenure in the White House. Senator Hatch recently said that “for years, I have fought every step of the way to ensure that our lands are managed by the Utahns [who] know them best and cherish them deeply.”
Let us translate that for you. What Senator Hatch is saying is that valuable mining and development contracts are being lost out on because of, and these are Senator Hatch’s words, an “egregious abuse of the Antiquities Act to serve far-left special interests.” Those interests are of course science, public land for everyone, our shared history, and not developing every inch of land.
This seems in line with Trump’s previous economic and policy choices — though it’s worth noting that these lands make more money and jobs as protected spaces than they would as mining concerns. It also goes against the idea that “this land belongs to all of us.” The lands the order refers to stretch from the Caribbean to the Marinas Trench (seriously) across 20 US states and six U.S. territories.
(Via The Salt Lake Tribune)