Dinosaur National Monument - View from Harding Hole Overlook Source: National Park Service
I’d like to be friends with the Honorable Rob Bishop – Congressman from Utah’s 1st District. I love his state. And I love his passion for democracy. Yesterday, he praised one of my favorite laws – the National Environmental Policy Act – for the voice it gives citizens in government decisions.
Congressman Bishop has perspective we need. He taught public high school for almost 30 years. As the mother of a high school student, I know the job is not easy but makes such a difference. Rob Bishop taught government and history – he knows some of the things that have worked well in the past and some that have not.
Congressman Bishop has experience that we need. In addition to serving as a public school teacher, Rob Bishop served in the Utah State Legislature for sixteen years. He’s walked the streets of Utah communities. He’s thought about what works and doesn’t for Utah.
We need Congressman Bishop to apply his skills to fixing the problems we face as a nation, rather than spoiling something that has worked so well for millions of Americans.
Congressman Bishop has it wrong with his bill H.R. 1459. The Antiquities Act has been used by 15 of the past 18 Presidents to preserve some of the places that Americans value most. The Act does not need the fix that Congressman Bishop offers.
The Antiquities Act provides a limited, but critical role, to the President. The Act authorizes the President to take action to reserve land that is already public from threats that could destroy it. The Antiquities Act simply preserves the land for future action by the public or Congress to protect it. Like all Presidential actions, this action does not fall within the scope of NEPA. That does not mean that NEPA and the public are left without a role in monument creation.
Congressman Bishop argues that NEPA should apply to the designation of national monuments on the public’s lands. He overlooks the valuable role NEPA already plays. Monuments are managed by plans developed through a public process pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Through this existing public process, the public plays an indispensable role in helping shape what uses belong where. Dinosaur National Monument provides a good example. So does the African Burial Grounds National Monument which has experimented with innovative virtual public meetings.
I’m off to Utah for a few days. Maybe I can buy Rob Bishop some ice cream when I get back. We can walk under the cherry blossoms and celebrate spring together. We need to come together to preserve what is best about his state, rather than tear it up.