January 13, 2017

Crapo, Risch: Recent Action Shows Need for Law Restricting Monument Designations

Senators reintroduce bill calling for local input on land decisions

Washington, D.C. - The sheer volume of national monuments being established and expanded by the outgoing Obama Administration adds renewed urgency to pass new federal legislation mandating local input and approval into the process.  Idaho Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch have reintroduced legislation to limit Presidential power related to the designation of national monuments.

More than a million acres of new monument designations in western states were added in a single day last December 28 th and the White House locked up tens of thousands of additional acres just this week.  S. 132, the National Monuments Designation Transparency and Accountability Act,  seeks to increase localized input regarding monument decisions by requiring legislation authorizing the decision from any state in which a proposed monument is located.  The bill would also require congressional approval for new monument designations.  

"Regardless of your opinion on this use of presidential power, the outgoing Administration has locked up more acres of public land for monument designation than any in history, Crapo said.  "These designations can be made with no input from local residents, elected leaders and those who use the public lands and their representatives in Congress.  This recent activity makes this legislation more important than ever."

"This legislation would allow for greater transparency in the monument designation process and would allow Idahoans to have greater input on monument proposals," Risch said. "Further, congressional authorization would be required before any national monument can be declared on public land, which would prevent the president from designating a monument based on the administration's agenda."

The legislation joins a similar measure endorsed by Crapo, Risch and Senate Energy Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), also seeking local input before top-down mandates can be made at the federal level.  Presidential power to unilaterally 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 much larger scale than initially intended by both Democratic and Republican administrations. 

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