House Republicans are hoping to pass a bill tomorrow that would limit the ability of the president to designate new national monuments. If the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act” becomes law, it would make it more difficult for Obama to use the 108-year-old Antiquities Act to appoint new monuments. Some environmentalists, however, have renamed the bill the “No New National Parks” bill, and they worry that it would prevent future efforts towards conserving America’s land.
The bill was authored by Utah Representative Rob Bishop and specifies that before a new park can be designated, it must go through an environmental review and public comment period; it also limits the president to appointing only one monument per state. The bill came about after some Republicans disagreed with the 10 new monuments that Obama has appointed during his terms, calling the appointment of the new California Coastal Monument “purely political,” claiming that it “undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation.”
The Antiquities Act was signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt, who was strongly supportive of land conservation. The law was meant to allow presidents to create monuments out of “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States.” Since its inception, it has been used by 16 different presidents from all sides of the political spectrum.
Some of Obama’s appointments have not only preserved important areas, but have helped push diversification in the National Parks Service with monuments like the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument and the Cesar E. Chavez National Monument. But if the bill passes, it would likely halt that progress. As it is, Congress had already forced the longest span of time – five years – between protecting new land since World War II, a move driven by partisan politics.
Via Huffington Post