January 22, 2015

Crapo Bill to Provide Check on Presidential Power in National Monument Designation Process

Among other provisions, measure would include impacted states in the process

Washington, D.C. -Idaho Senator Mike Crapo introduced legislation today limit Presidential power related to the designation of national monuments.  Crapo's bill comes in advance of new designations likely to be made by the Obama Administration over the course of the next two years, potentially including the Boulder-White Clouds in Idaho. 

Senators Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and David Vitter (R-Louisiana) joined Crapo in introducing S. 228,the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act, which would require Congressional approval before any new national monument designations are finalized.   Notably, the legislation seeks to increase localized input regarding monument decisions byrequiring legislation authorizing the decision from any state in which a proposed monument is located.

"Important land management decisions, especially those with the potential to have significant impacts on our communities such as a monument designation, must have local input and support," said Crapo.  "Top-down national monument designations can result in severe restrictions on access to public lands and economic disruption to surrounding communities.  It is critical that states and affected stakeholders where a monument could be located play a key role in the decision-making process."

"The monument designation process is in sore need of greater transparency," said Risch. "This legislation would require public hearings for Idahoans to express their views on proposed monuments. Currently, citizens in the affected communities have no way to formally express their concerns.  It would also require Congressional approval of a proposed monument which would keep the president from designating a monument based on the administration's agenda, without public input."

"As a Louisianian, I deeply respect the need to protect our natural resources, ecosystems, and wildlife. But we must also remember that it's equally important to ensure the process of designating a national monument is not devoid of consideration by impacted states. Far-left environmental groups are pressuring the President to abuse his authority to prevent oil and gas production on federal lands, and to designate large swaths of land as national monuments to put them off limits," said Vitter. "This legislation is crucial for the future of how federal lands will be protected and managed - ideally, without political motivation and abuses of power from the Executive Branch."

Presidential power to designate national monuments on federal lands was established by the Antiquities Act of 1906-a law that was enacted in response to fears of the destruction and theft of U.S. archaeological sites and treasures.  In the more than 100 years that have passed since its creation, the Act has been used on a muchlarger scale than initially intended by both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

Specifically, the reforms contained in S. 228 would require the legislative branch to approve new national monuments after states do.  Failing congressional approval, new monuments would revert to their previous status.  The legislation would also require proposed national monuments to comply with federal environmental statutes and enabling legislation from impacted states.