California’s resistance will likely pave the way for other states.
In April, President Trump issued an executive order to review the preservation status of 26 national monuments across the country, six of which reside in California. The order threatened the protection of the monuments from activities such as drilling, logging, or development. Since that executive order was issued, Trump, amid great controversy, withdrew the United States from the Paris Agreement.
On Friday, the California attorney general responded to the executive order with an 11-page missive ensuring that California wouldn’t cede the protection of its natural treasures without a fight. In the letter, Xavier Becerra promised “to take any and all legal action necessary” to keep the state’s six endangered monuments protected. They include, per the Los Angeles Times:
- The San Gabriel Mountains monument, which forms a backdrop to Los Angeles.
- The Mojave Trails and Sand to Snow monuments in the Southern California desert.
- The Giant Sequoia monument in the southern Sierra Nevada.
- The Carrizo Plain monument on the southwestern edge of the San Joaquin Valley.
- The Berryessa Snow Mountain in Northern California.
Becerra argues in his letter that, while the Antiquities Act of 1906 gives presidents the power to create protected monuments, it does not authorize the president to revoke or change protections, claiming that authority lies solely in Congress. California’s stance will likely empower other states to issue similar statements in protection of their own monuments and natural assets.
While California may be the most vocal and prominent dissenters in the face of Trump’s adversarial treatment of preservation efforts, they’re certainly not the only state pushing back. Hawaii unilaterally adopted the same goals the nation was held to in the Paris peace accord following the United States’ withdrawal.