Tomorrow, President Donald Trump is going to take another step towards selling out America to special interests – this time the fossil fuel giants. He will sign an executive order launching a review of national monuments created over the past two decades with the goal of stripping protections from swathes of land.
Sources close to the White House admit that Trump is specifically targeting a piece of President Barack Obama’s legacy, the 1.3 million acre Bear Ears National Monument in Utah. Under the Antiquities Act, Obama unilaterally took action to preserve a stunning landscape of ancient geological features facing destruction by fossil fuel mining.
The Antiquities Act gives presidents the power to protect areas important to America’s cultural heritage or to science. Bear Ears National Monument is a wonder of the geological world and should be left intact for future generations of scientists to study.
Experts say that Trump has no legal powers to ‘undo’ monuments.
John Ruple, a professor at the University of Utah’s law school who studies public land, explains:
“Clearly the president has the authority to create [a monument]. The question is: Where would he get the power to undo it, or significantly reduce it? The Antiquities Act says nothing about undoing monuments or reducing it.”
The Aaron Weiss, a spokesperson for the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation group, agrees:
“There’s a reason no president has attempted to rescind a monument designation. It’s not provided for the Antiquities Act. Any review that ignores that is willfully ignoring the law and just setting this administration up for years of lawsuits.”
Some people, however, are positively gleeful about Trump’s move to privatize the monument – people who have a vested interest in fossil fuels.
President of the Western Energy Alliance Kathleen Sgamma lobbies on behalf of oil and gas companies. Unsurprisingly, she believes “it is a worthwhile endeavor to look at the abuse of the Antiquities Act.”
Republicans in Congress broadly support Trump’s action against national monuments. Conservatives need to ask themselves, Is America’s heritage really less important than drilling for oil?
Will future generations of Americans truly be grateful that our country’s history and natural beauty was destroyed by a government that prioritized big corporations over its own people?
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