Just shy of his 100th day in office, Donald Trump commanded the U.S. Interior Department secretary to review 27 national monuments in order to shrink—or even eliminate—their designations.
No U.S. president has ever repealed a monument’s status, and for good reason. Designated by presidents of both parties under the Antiquities Act of 1906, the historical and natural importance of these hallowed grounds are irrefutable. They inspire us, teach us about the natural world, support small businesses, and provide opportunities to boost our physical and mental health.
But what do Trump and his administration see in these lands and waters? Oil, coal, gas, timber, and prospects to exploit, privatize, and profit.
To stop this attack, NRDC has helped galvanize millions of advocates—tribal leaders, hunters, anglers, hikers, artists, conservations—who flooded then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s mailbox with 2.7 million public comments in support of these monuments. Despite this, in June 2017, Zinke recommended downsizing Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante in Utah, Cascade Siskiyou in Oregon, and Gold Butte in Nevada. He also urged changes in the use and/or management of Katahdin Woods and Waters in Maine, Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks and Rio Grande in New Mexico, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England; Pacific Remote Island Marine National Monument; and Rose Atoll Marine National Monument.
In December 2017, Trump began to act on these recommendations by signing proclamations to decimate Bears Ears by a devastating 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante by 46 percent, opening them up to the dirty fossil fuel industry. Together with our partners, NRDC’s lawyers immediately sued over this illegal act.
The Trump administration can’t sell off America’s purple mountain majesties and shining seas to the highest bidder. And every time they try, our lawyers are standing by.