A Double Check on Presidential Authority

Today the American Lands Council welcomes President Trump's Executive Order to review multiple monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

In his remarks today, President Trump stated emphatically, "The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time we ended this abusive practice."trumpeo42617.jpg

Commenting on the Executive Order, Jennifer Fielder, CEO of the American Lands Council, stated:

President Trump's executive order looks to uphold the original intent of the Antiquities Act and offer a much needed double-check on past, present, and future presidential authority. The increasingly massive acreages that have been unilaterally placed under "national monument" designations calls attention to the need to restore a sensible process for protecting important  cultural resources while preventing abuse of power. We applaud President Trump for recognizing the importance of applying the Antiquities Act appropriately and taking steps to stop it from being used as a tool to threaten western states and arbitrarily lock the public out of millions of acres of our public lands.

Over the next 120 days, Secretary Zinke will be conducting the review. In briefing comments yesterday, Zinke explained that the Antiquities Act itself states that its purview is to “designate the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Matt Anderson at the Sutherland Institute recently wrote about reforming the Antiquities Act - because "Our angst over the Antiquities Act is driven by its process, not its intent to preserve and protect."

Back in December, Jon Wood provided a good analysis and background info. Here's a snippet:

In 1906, the federal government owned vast lands in the west but it didn’t know much about them or have a system in place to manage them. What it did know, however, was that much of it was former Indian territory containing priceless historical artifacts, which were being plundered. To address that problem, it enacted the Antiquities Act to authorize the President to declare “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest” as national monuments and reserve small areas of federal land for their protection. But for decades, Presidents have abused this authority in the belief that protecting large areas for environmental reasons would add to their legacy.

Trump's Executive Order to review monument designations is an important step in the current process of reforming federal lands policy. Those reforms need to go much further, though, to rectify the wrongdoing of the past, to enhance public access and economic opportunity for local people and communities, and to restore the environmental health of America's public lands. See the American Lands Council Policy Statement, where we outline our vision of how to achieve that via the transfer of public lands to willing states.   


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  • Dylan Smith
    commented 2017-10-30 05:20:04 -0600
    No one could be given unlimited power, Mr. President :( the United States of America is a Federal republic country, not Feudalism.