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Bears Ears and Gold Butte National Monument Designations: Statement by Bonner Cohen

The following is a statement by Bonner Cohen, Ph. D., senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research, on the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada by President Obama:

President Obama has yet again shown his disdain for Congress, the rule of law, and America's future energy development by unilaterally designating 1.655 million acres of federal land in the West as national monuments. By using the 1906 Antiquities Act, which was enacted to protect cultural sites of Native Americans, as an instrument of environmental policy, Obama has found a cynical way to block Americans' access to valuable natural resources. Monument designations are so restrictive that energy development within their boundaries is all but impossible. They are de facto wilderness designations. But under the Wilderness Act of 1963, Congress must approve such designations.

It is incumbent upon the incoming Trump administration to put an end to this abuse of executive power. President Trump should revoke the Bears Ears National Monument in Utah and the Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada. This will set up a titanic legal battle over the power of a president to revoke a monument designation of a previous administration, a fight that will ultimately be decided in the Supreme Court.

Dr. Cohen and National Center Senior Fellow R.J. Smith issued two press releases this past fall about President Obama's overuse of the Antiquities Act, available here and here.

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