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President Trump Signs Executive Order To Reassess National Monument Designations

“Now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well”

Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument via Twitter

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to review all national monument designations made over the last 21 years. The order asks the agency to reassess monument designations under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to ensure they meet the “requirements and original objectives of the Act,” while protecting the “landmarks, structures, and objects against the appropriate use of Federal lands and the effects on surrounding lands and communities.”

The order comes after Republicans have asked the president to reconsider the designations of two monuments in particular: The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine and Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. In a fact sheet, the White House said the two monuments “represent the book-ends of modern Antiquities Act overreach.” According to The Los Angeles Times, the Bears Ears monument is being reconsidered because it “holds promise for oil and gas, mining and other potential development.”

The leaders of the upcoming People’s Climate March in Washington D.C., see the order as a move by the Trump administration to benefit the oil and gas industries as well. “So much for being Teddy Roosevelt. [Secretary of the Interior] Zinke and the Trump administration want to gut the power of the Antiquities Act to shore up the fossil fuel industry,” May Boeve said in a statement. “On top of all the attacks on our climate, now we’ll have to defend our parks and monuments from Big Oil as well.”

Trump’s executive order makes him the first U.S. president to attempt revocation of a national monument since President Roosevelt in 1936. But Roosevelt’s attempt failed because the act only allows for national monuments to be abolished by Congress. So Trump’s executive order may be stopped in the courts just like his recent illegal travel bans. “Any attempt to reverse or shrink a monument designation by the executive branch is unlawful under the Antiquities Act,” Heidi McIntosh, the managing attorney for Earthjustice, said in a statement. “Only Congress has the authority to modify a national monument.”

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