President Barack Obama continued to work against President-elect Trump’s administration this week by attempting to bind President-elect Trump’s hands when it comes to environmental issues. His most recent power grab included designating two national monuments as part of his effort to secure his environmental legacy.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah will cover 1.35 million acres in the Four Corners region and the Gold Butte National Monument outside of Las Vegas will consist of another 300,000 acres.
The Washington Post reported that Obama has used his executive power to create national monuments 29 times during his presidency for more than 553 million acres of federal lands and waters.
Congressional Republicans have vowed to fight back. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz said that by using the Antiquities Act to create the national monuments, Obama had destroyed a bipartisan compromise already in the works.
He added that Obama’s “midnight proclamation cherry picked provisions of the Public Lands Initiative and disregarded the economic development and multi-use provisions necessary for a balanced compromise,” he told Fox News.
Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee voiced a similar reaction.
“This arrogant act by a lame duck president will not stand,” he said in a statement, according to Breitbart. He added that he would “work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation.”
Regardless of how bad this move actually is, it might be difficult to undo. John Leshy, a former Department of the Interior solicitor who teaches at the University of California Hastings College of Law, told The Post that the unilateral modification or abolishment of a national monument by a president has not been tested in court.
Congress can, however, potentially do either of those things.
Unsurprisingly, Christy Goldfuss, managing director at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, saw things differently and said she did not see a way that the Trump administration would have authority to undo these designations.
Once again, Obama has put his priorities above everyone else’s. By declaring these national monuments, he’s depriving local citizens of the freedom to use their land for energy development or other uses.
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