Critics continue push for monument changes

Deseret News cited Robert J. Smith on the need to repeal “The antiquated Antiquities Act” on grounds the act cannot be reformed owing to its age and inherent inflexibility of the act to possible reform. 

SALT LAKE CITY — Critics of monument designations in Utah and elsewhere in the country are not letting up with their pressure on the Trump administration to reduce boundaries and right the “wrongs” of past U.S. presidents.

In a joint event Wednesday hosted by Utah’s Sutherland Institute and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., speakers and panelists also pressed for a drastic overhaul of the 1906 law that gives presidents the authority to declare monuments.

R.J. Smith, senior fellow with the National Center for Public Policy Research, took his opposition to the Antiquities Act one step further, saying it should be abolished.

“The antiquated Antiquities Act should be repealed, not reformed, because it can’t be reformed,” said Smith, who is also affiliated with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a nonprofit, free-market think tank.

The livestreamed event included remarks by Rep. Rob Bishop and Sen. Mike Lee, both R-Utah, who have been at the forefront of Utah’s political leaders jockeying for key policy changes in the public lands arena.

Their anti-federal government mantra is fueled in large measure by twin national monument designations in Utah 21 years apart — Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996 by then-President Bill Clinton and the 2016 set aside of Bears Ears in San Juan County.

“Utahns who opposed the monument by supermajority margins at the time of the (Bears Ears) creation were indignant, and none were more indignant than the residents of San Juan County where the monument is located,” Lee said.

Read the full article at Deseret News.