Legislation that would bar presidents from designating national monuments in Utah without the consent of Congress and the state Legislature was introduced on Wednesday by Sen. Mike Lee.
The Utah Republican wants the Beehive State to be exempt from the federal Antiquities Act, which grants the president unilateral power to name national monuments, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
Republicans in the state were particularly roiled at two examples of the act being used by Democratic presidents – in 1996 when Bill Clinton named the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in 1996 and in 2016 Barack Obama did so with the Bears Ears National Monument.
“Rural Americans want what all Americans want: a dignified decent-paying job, a family to love and support, and a healthy community whose future is determined by local residents — not their self-styled betters thousands of miles away,” Lee said in a statement.
The bill, titled the Protecting Utah’s Rural Economy Act, or PURE Act, was blasted by The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, a non-partisan, non-profit organization dedicated to “working full time to defend Utah’s red rock wilderness.”
“This legislation is just the latest shortsighted attack on the public lands that are treasured by Utahns and the American people,” the group said on its Facebook page. “If Sen. Lee’s grim vision for Utah had been in place in the last century, national treasures like Arches, Zion and Bryce Canyon would not enjoy the protection they have today.”
Last December, President Donald Trump shrank both the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments, although those reductions are now being challenged in federal court.
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