President Trump’s executive order on Wednesday for the Department of the Interior to review two dozen national monuments created by several of his predecessors has garnered widespread praise from many western state lawmakers, anger from conservationists and Native American groups and raised the question of whether one executive has the power undo the decisions of a previous White House.
Speaking during a signing ceremony at the Interior Department, Trump derided the national monument protection efforts of the last three presidents. He called them “a massive federal land grab,” while specifically criticizing President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act as a way to “unilaterally put millions of acres of land and water under strict federal control.”
The 1906 Antiquities Act authorizes the president to declare federal lands as monuments and restrict their use, but Republican lawmakers in western states like Utah have been hostile to the use of the act by Presidents Obama, Clinton and George W. Bush – claiming the designations stymie economic growth by shutting off areas to commercial and energy development.
The order will cover the several dozen monuments across the country designated since 1996 that total 100,000 acres or more. Zinke was directed to produce an interim report in 45 days and make a recommendation on Bears Ears, and then issue a final report within 120 days. Read more at Fox News.