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Radical Environmentalism driving Obama’s national monument obsession

/, Federal Overreach, Government Run Amok/Radical Environmentalism driving Obama’s national monument obsession

Obama’s monument declarations in Hawaii and beyond are not motivated by a desire to protect lands threatened with imminent destruction; it is about building his legacy with far-Left environmental zealots. Millions of people are suffering so that Obama’s vanity can be satisfied.

Obama’s Dangerous use of the National Monuments Law

President Barack Obama greets some of the residents of the island during a tour of Midway Atoll in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument on September 1, 2016. (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite objections made by many prominent Hawaiians and a federally designated regional fishing council, President Barack Obama, relying on the authority granted to the presidency in the 1906 Antiquities Act, quadrupled the size of the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument (PMNM) with one stroke of a pen.

With its August 25 expansion, PMNM became the largest protected reserve on Earth, comprising 582,578 square miles, nearly double the size of Texas. President George W. Bush created PMNM in 2006.

The Antiquities Act is one of the most ill-considered laws ever written. It gives to presidents dictatorial power to declare large swaths of the public’s land off-limits to a variety of uses normally allowed on federal lands. Many presidents have used this power, but none have done so more often or with such recklessness as Obama has. Since 2009, Obama has created or expanded 25 national monuments, more than any other president in history.

The process of creating a national monument under the Antiquities Act does not require approval from the democratically elected Congress, which is especially problematic because the creation of national monuments has often been opposed by many people in the states where the monuments have been established. It’s these people who suffer most directly from the new limits placed on economic and recreational activities.

Obama’s monument declarations in Hawaii and beyond are not motivated by a desire to protect lands threatened with imminent destruction; it is about building his legacy with far-Left environmental zealots. Millions of people are suffering so that Obama’s vanity can be satisfied.

The Antiquities Act grants to the president discretionary power “to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest … to be national monuments.” Congress originally passed the law as an emergency measure to prevent the looting of antiquities on Native American lands, intending it, as the debate surrounding it shows, only to be used in instances where public lands or artifacts faced immediate threats of destruction and the normal pace of congressional action might take too long to prevent harm.

The law limits the scope of a monument to “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” Those so-called limits have proven to be a horrific joke to Obama and other presidents seeking to restrict the power of the public. They have provided virtually no restraints on presidents’ power, because as Obama and other chief executives have been quick to point out, it is they who determine what the smallest area necessary for protection is.

The Antiquities Act also authorized the federal government to take privately owned lands to protect the integrity of a monument. Hundreds of millions of acres of private and public land have been placed off-limits and designated as monuments. Each designation provides an excellent photo opportunity for the president; he smiles for the camera while someone’s access to land is stolen away from him, someone’s hunting and fishing grounds are blocked, someone’s land has been grabbed, and someone’s life’s work is wiped out. It doesn’t matter to Obama that the productive use of the land has been limited or that the economic opportunities that once belonged to some group of ranchers, farmers, miners and/or oil and gas workers have been dashed. All that matters is that one individual’s legacy has been advanced with a small, well-funded, extremely powerful special-interest group.

In the PMNM case, even members of Obama’s political party protested the designation. Former Hawaii Gov. George Ariyoshi (D), former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka (D), and former Gov. Ben Cayetano (D) sent a letter to Obama protesting the designation. The Western Pacific Regional Fishery Management Council (WPRFMC), which has been designated to manage waters around U.S. Pacific islands by the federal government, also opposed Obama’s decision to expand the monument, saying the designation “serves a political legacy.”

“Closing 60% of Hawaii’s waters to commercial fishing, when science is telling us that it will not lead to more productive local fisheries, makes no sense,” said Edwin Ebisui, Jr., the chairperson of WPRFMC, in a statement.

The Antiquities Act has been amended twice since 1950. The backlash against President Franklin Roosevelt’s 1943 designation of the Jackson Hole National Monument resulted in a law requiring congressional consent for the future creation or enlargement of monuments in Wyoming. After President Jimmy Carter had used the Antiquities Act to create 56 million acres of national monuments in Alaska, it was revised to prohibit presidents from designating more than 5,000 acres of Alaskan land as a national monument without congressional consent.

Since that time, radical environmentalists have seized power within the Democratic Party, and the narrow, increasingly partisan divide in Congress has prevented legislators from limiting presidents’ national monument designations.

We need to prevent future Antiquities Act abuses by creating a law that would require congressional approval and approval from the legislature of the state where the proposed monument would be located before land can be designated as a national monument. The law should also prohibit any part of the exclusive economic zone—the coastal waters over which the United States has jurisdiction—from being designated a marine national monument without the approval of Congress and the legislatures representing states within 100 miles of the proposed monument.

Will the upcoming November election change things for the better and result in additional limits on presidents’ power to designate national monuments? I’m not holding my breath.

H. Sterling Burnette

Forbes

takeawayyourland-1

*Free Range Report*

Comments

  1. H. Sterling Burnette, I’m not holding my breath either. The proposed Bears Ears monument will swallow up 1.9 million acres of incredibly pristine and already well managed land. Then millions of mindless tourists will be herded in to destroy it. If Obama does the dirty deed dirt cheap by pulling the trigger with his pen, I for one will not accept it. I will never ever concede the Bears Ears and surrounding area to a dictator and his minions of elite cheering him on. Not now. Not ever. it’s time to reign in this dictatorial administration. Michael Nielson Lyman.

  2. Definitely time States stand up to federal encroachment and control. The 1.9 M. acres of proposed land being eyed for a monument does not fully meet the definition of “public lands”, as it includes 43 grazing allotments, 661 water-right infrastructures, 151,000 acres of state trust land, 18,000 acres of private property, and hundreds of miles of roads and infrastructure which are granted a RS2477 right-of-way. The wealth of a nation is in its land, and I fear we are giving too much away as collateral to other nations.

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