May 01, 2018

The unlawful reduction of Bears Ears National Monument: An executive overreach

Ethel Branch and Daniel Cordalis

At the end of 2016, President Obama designated the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument (Monument) in southeast Utah using his Antiquities Act authority, a power delegated by Congress to allow the president to protect this nation’s unique historical resources. President Trump recently attempted to flip that power on its head, issuing a proclamation to revoke and replace the Monument, stripping 85 percent of its lands of the enhanced protections that came with Monument designation. This exposed many of our historical, cultural, and spiritual resources to threats of destruction and defilement. The language of the Antiquities Act and subsequent congressional statements in other public land statutes make it clear that the president does not have the power to revoke, shrink, or otherwise modify previous monument designations and confirms that President Trump’s attempt is unlawful.

 

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