Many of you have been fighting with me over the past six years to prevent President Barack Obama from designating additional national monuments in Utah.
Now, unfortunately, we are hearing that the president is planning to follow through with the threat to designate the Bears Ears National Monument.
In her confirmation hearings, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell committed to ensuring that there would be local support for a monument before recommending monument designation to the president. There is not nearly enough local support for the Bears Ears National Monument to justify designating it.
It would be a mistake to designate this monument in general, but it is especially a mistake to designate it now—only days before Christmas, during the final weeks of the Obama presidency, after an election that was a referendum on this president’s record of abusing his executive authority to enact policies that hurt hardworking Americans (especially those living in rural communities).
There is still time for the president to reverse course and decide not to designate this monument, and I hope he doesn’t do it. If he does make this designation, it will be clear that it is time for Congress to take away the power given to presidents to designate national monuments.
After working with President-elect Donald Trump to make sure that the Bears Ears designation is rescinded, defunded, and repealed, I will work with the Utah delegation, Utah’s state officials, other members of Congress, and the Trump administration to repeal the Antiquities Act—or at the very least give Utah the same exemptions from presidential monument designations that Wyoming and Alaska enjoy.
After cleaning up the mess left behind by a last-minute, last-ditch midnight monument designation, I will look forward to working with the people of San Juan County and the local Native American tribes in the area near Bears Ears to ensure that their voice is no longer excluded from land management decisions that directly impact their communities and way of life.
For a stirring example of why these voices should not be ignored, I strongly recommend that you watch San Juan County Commissioner Rebecca Benally’s statement in opposition to the designation of the Bears Ears National Monument:
Ultimately, our communities are our most precious resource, and I am committed to fight for the small communities in Utah that have been left out and left behind.