Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, May 1, 2017

Contact: Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Republicans Attack Presidential Authority to Protect National Monuments

House Hearing on Tuesday Continues Industry-backed Assault on Public Lands

WASHINGTON— House Republicans will hold a hearing Tuesday to review national monument designations by past presidents, including Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

The hearing — chaired by Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), who has cosponsored 24 anti-public lands bills since 2011 — is part of a larger effort by House Republicans to weaken protections of public lands. The aim of this assault on national monuments is to rescind or shrink their boundaries and open them to industrialization. 

“Teddy Roosevelt would be appalled to see the Republican Party's mean-spirited attempts to dismantle our public lands,” said Randi Spivak, director of the Center for Biological Diversity's public lands program. “Republicans would rather allow industry to log, mine and frack these beautiful wild places for short-term profit than let future generations marvel at the natural and cultural wonders of this country.”

Congress authorized the president to designate national monuments on federally owned land under the Antiquities Act of 1906 with the express purpose of protecting important objects of historic and scientific importance. Last week President Trump issued an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to review the designation of national monuments protected since 1996.

Over the past century, national monument designations have protected some of the country's most iconic natural and cultural landmarks. Twenty-four national parks, including Grand Teton, Grand Canyon and Acadia, first received protection as monuments. Over the past 110 years, 16 out of 19 presidents have designated national monuments under the Antiquities Act.

“Presidents from both parties established these monuments to protect irreplaceable natural, scientific and cultural treasures,” Spivak said. “McClintock, Bishop and House Republicans are completely out of touch with the values of an overwhelming majority of Americans who want to see the continued protection of our national monuments.”

A recent Center for Biological Diversity report, Public Lands Enemies, identified the top 15 members of Congress trying to seize, destroy, dismantle and privatize America's public lands. Members of the Subcommittee on Federal Lands, including Reps. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), Don Young (R-Alaska), Raúl Labrador (R-Idaho), Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) and Tom McClintock (R-Calif.), landed on the public lands enemies list, having sponsored or cosponsored collectively 124 anti-public lands bills since 2011. The lawmakers have also received, collectively, millions of dollars in campaign contributions from the oil, gas and logging industries.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.3 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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