Zinke won't eliminate any national monuments

Zinke did not recommend abolishing any monuments.

Arguments about federal overreach in the Obama and Clinton eras - which oversaw the creation of many new national monuments - were sometimes meekly given by government officials, the primary reason that eliminations were expected were opportunistic economic ones.

The recommendations are on whether to shrink the land, get rid of national monument designations or maintain the land as is.

Today's news was a blow to environmental groups that have long expressed fears that the lands could be sold to private development.

A report summary issued by Zinke discussed the review's methodology and said, "Existing monuments have been modified by successive Presidents in the past, including 18 reductions in the size of monuments, and there is no doubt that President Trump has the authority to review and consider recommendations to modify or add a monument".

At Trump's direction, Zinke earlier this year launched a review of 27 national monuments, a controversial move that could undo protections for millions of acres of federal lands, as well as limits on oil and gas or other energy production.

The Associated Press interviewed Zinke regarding the monuments on August 24, the end date of a 120-day review ordered by the president in April.

Chu said the public deserves to see the complete list of recommendations that were sent to the White House.

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Some 2.4 million public comments, almost all of them supporting the national monuments - including the dazzling and historically important geological formations of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears in Utah - were submitted in the past 60 days. During a two-month period of public comments, the Interior Department received more than 2.4 million comments - and an overwhelming majority was in favor of keeping the national monuments, according to the Center for Western Priorities.

Opposition to the review was the lowest among Nevadans and Mainers; 72 percent and 75 percent, respectively, opposed any tinkering with the monuments. "That narrative is patently false and shameful".

Utah Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch said Thursday he looks forward "to assisting in every way possible as additional details about the future of Utah's monuments are made public".

According to The New York Times, parts of Bears Ears and at least three other national monuments would lose their strict protection and could be reopened for new mining or drilling under proposals submitted to President Donald Trump by Zinke on Thursday, according to congressional aides and others who have been briefed on the report.

The Antiquities Act is the first law to establish that archeological sites on public lands are important public resources. At the time, Trump said the goal of the review was to end "another egregious use of federal power" and give the states more say in how public lands are used. He's also said that Bears Ears monument in Utah should be downsized.

National monuments are allowed to be designated by presidents via the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Bishop also repeated a previously debunked talking point that the Antiquities Act was originally meant to protect lands of up to 320 acres. "No President has ever abolished or revoked a national monument proclamation, so the existence or scope of any such authority has not been tested in courts", legislative attorney Alexandra M. Wyatt wrote in a paper about National Monuments released by Congressional Research Service in 2016.

Environmentalist and senior vice president of Oceana, Jacqueline Savitz, blasted the announcement as vague, intentionally misleading and openly questioned why the recommendation had not included specific monument reduction targets.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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