Earlier this week, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) introduced a bill to strip current and future presidents’ authority to designate national monuments, proposing an overhaul to a law that presidents have used for nearly a century to protect some of the country’s most iconic and treasured places. The bill, introduced Tuesday, would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act to effectively block the President from designating any new national monuments without congressional approval and an extensive environmental review. “Americans value our National Parks and iconic areas like Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty, but this legislation would attack the century-old law that has helped protect them,” said Alex Taurel, Deputy Legislative Director at the League of Conservation Voters. “By introducing this bill, Rep. Young has proven how out of step with the American people he truly is.”
Rep. Young, who has co-sponsored similar legislation in the past, is one of several other members of Congress who are fighting to gut the Antiquities Act and weaken protections on public lands, but who feature national monuments prominently on social media and their websites: the background of Rep. Young’s website currently features a stock photoof Denali National Park and Preserve, a portion of which was originally designated as a national monument by President Carter in 1978. Attacks on the Antiquities Act from Republican members of Congress are not new. Last March, the House passed legislation to block presidents from establishing national monuments by limiting the number of designations a president can make per term, and creating additional roadblocks to limit executive authority under the Act.
“The new Congress is already moving quickly on an agenda backed by fossil-fuel interests that would weaken protections for clean air and clean water, roll back investments in renewable energy, fast track exports of American oil, and prioritize special interest giveaways on America’s public lands,” said former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, Counselor to the Center for American Progress and President of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “The fossil-fuel agenda (funded by big oil companies) of the new Congress is out of step with public opinion and it’s out of step with the priorities of middle-class families who want more renewable energy, cleaner air for their kids, and places that will be set aside for future generations to enjoy.”
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