February 17, 2011

National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act Introduced

Washington, DC - Congressman Devin Nunes (CA-21) and Senator Mike Crapo (ID) today announced the bi-cameral introduction of legislation that will limit the unchecked Presidential power related to the designation of new national monuments.

"The bill that we introduced today will improve the Antiquities Act by limiting the president's unfettered discretion and ensuring a more inclusive designation process," said Rep. Nunes.

"This kind of top-down directive is anything but collaborative," Crapo said. "For too long, Presidents have had the ability to sneak monument designations into law without any Congressional oversight, review or approval. This legislation is critical so that the public and Congress can review and engage in any decisions involving private and public lands and designations for national monuments."

Presidential power to establish National Monuments on federals lands flows from 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 grander scale by both Democratic and Republican administrations. Today, there are 71 National Monuments located in 26 states, covering some 136 million acres.

National Monument designations result in severe restrictions on public lands, public lands, which has led to the economic devastation of surrounding communities that have historically relied on the resources yielded by these lands. President Clinton designated 5.9 million acres, including vast swaths of the Sierra and Sequoia National Forests, as protected monuments. The economic impact was swift and devastating with mill closures alone causing nearly 60,000 lost jobs.

The Nunes/Crapo legislation comes in advance of new designations likely to be made by the Obama Administration, which were detailed in a leaked Department of Interior memo in 2010. The Interior Department memo detailed plans to designate or expand monuments in Arizona, California, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, and Washington.

The reforms contained in the National Monuments Designation Transparency and Accountability Act would restore Congress' authority over monument designations by requiring the legislative branch to approve new National Monuments within two years of establishment. Failing Congressional approval, new monuments would revert to their previous status. The bill would also ensure that any restrictions placed on public lands are narrowly tailored and essential to the proper care and management of the objects protected by a monument designation.

The following organizations support the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act: American Sheep Industry Association, Arizona Wool Growers Association, California Forestry Association, California Wool Growers Association, Colorado Wool Growers Association, Idaho Wool Growers Association, Independent Oil Producers Association, Montana Wool Growers Association, National Association of Counties, Public Lands Council, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, Nevada Cattlemen's Association, Nevada Wool Growers Association, New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, New Mexico Federal Lands Council, New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc., Northern New Mexico Stockmen's Association, Oregon Cattlemen's Association, Oregon Sheep Growers Association, South Dakota Cattlemen's Association, Texas Sheep & Goat Raisers Association, Utah Cattlemen's Association, Utah Wool Growers Association, Washington State Sheep Producers, and Wyoming Wool Growers Association.