WASHINGTON (March 26, 2014)--The House of Representatives today passed a bill that would make it harder to protect threatened federal lands and historic sites. The bill would prevent the president from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to designate national monuments. Presidents of both parties have used this power to preserve such iconic treasures as the Statue of Liberty and the Grand Canyon.
Bobby McEnaney, a senior lands analyst in the Land and Wildlife Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, made the following comment about the House vote:
“Congress should be protecting lands that are treasured by Americans from across the political spectrum, not stopping the President from doing so.” Regarding a section of the bill that would require monument designations to be reviewed under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), McEnaney added, “The NEPA provision is just designed to block protection. The management plans for monuments, which govern how the land can actually be used, already undergo NEPA reviews.”
Congress has passed only one wilderness bill since 2009, and the House Republican leadership has killed numerous bipartisan land conservation proposals. President Obama has been judicious in using his authority, designating as monuments nine historic sites and natural landscapes in eight states, from Delaware to Washington, since he took office. Among the monuments designed by President George W. Bush was a 140,000-square mile marine preserve off Hawaii, the largest in the United States.
For more background, see Bobby McEnaney’s blog: http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bmcenaney/protecting_the_law_that_protec.html