President Trump Orders Review of National Monuments

If you’re planning a family vacation to tour the most recently designated national monuments, you might want to expedite that trip.  On Wednesday, President Trump signed an Executive Order instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review any national monument created since January 1, 1996, that spans at least 100,000 acres, or “where the Secretary determines that the designation or expansion was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders,” to determine if it should maintain its designation.

President Trump’s move is motivated by his view that the 1906 Antiquities Act that empowers a president to unilaterally protect cultural, historic or natural resources on federal land has resulted in overreach, stating that the Order would “end another egregious use of government power.”

The Executive Order requires the evaluation of 25 to 40 national monuments designated by Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, including: Sand to Snow National Monument, Mojave Trails National Monument, The Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Vermilion Cliffs, The Giant Sequoia National Monument, and Bears Ears National Monument.  (President Obama’s December 2016 designation of Bears Ears National Monument faced opposition from certain Utah stakeholders.)

President Trump’s efforts to revoke national monument designations could result in legal challenges.  Patagonia has already threatened to sue over any reversal of a national monument designation.  The Antiquities Act does not provide for revocation of national monuments.  This is, both legally and literally, untouched territory.  No president has ever attempted to revoke a national monument named by a predecessor.

If anyone needs me, I’ll be packing the RV.

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Rita Bolt Barker

Rita Bolt Barker is an experienced litigator and counselor, focusing primarily on environmental, commercial litigation, and insurance coverage matters.

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