President Trump signed an executive order on Wednesday directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the designation of dozens of national monuments on federal lands. The Competitive Enterprise Institute applauds this move by President Trump to counter massive land grabs by previous administrations that imperiled American jobs and hurt the environment.
CEI’s Myron Ebell said:
CEI strongly supports President Trump’s Executive Order ordering Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review National Monument designations since 1996. Presidents at least since Bill Clinton have misused the Antiquities Act of 1906 to lock up millions of acres of federal lands. Some of these National Monument designations have had devastating effects on the people living near them. Jobs in resource industries have been destroyed, access for recreation and hunting has been eliminated, and environmental degradation has resulted from replacing active land management with de facto wilderness non-management.
We hope that Secretary Zinke’s review will conclude that a number of the largest National Monument designations, beginning with the Grand Staircase-Escalante in 1996 and ending with the Bears Ears and the Katahdin Woods and Waters in 2016, should either be de-designated or radically reduced in size.
The huge National Monument designations of recent decades have little to do with the original purpose of the Antiquities Act, which was to allow the executive branch to protect newly discovered archaeological and cultural sites on federal lands from being pillaged. There are now other federal laws that provide full protection for these sites. We hope the review ordered by President Trump will provide an impetus for Congress at long last to abolish the outmoded Antiquities Act.