Trump to shrink Utah monuments

The president of the United States, Donald Trump is all ready to depart for Utah on Monday for the announcement of big cuts to the sprawling wilderness national monuments of the state. This is a move which is very likely to trigger legal challenges from tribes and environmental groups. This visit to the state by Donald Trump follows a long review of three months by the Interior Department that he ordered in April 2017 for the identification of 27 monuments which were designated by previous presidents for rescinding and resizing to make the way for development. Unlike national parks that can only be created by an act of Congress, the national monuments can be designated unilaterally by presidents under the century-old Antiquities Act which is a law meant for the protection of sacred sites, artifacts and historical objects.

Donald Trump has said that the previous presidents abused the act by putting unnecessarily big chunks of territory off limits to drilling, mining, grazing, road traffic and a lot of other activities; which is a headwind to his plan to ramp up the overall energy output of the United States. On Monday, Trump will call for an 85 percent cut to a 1.3 million acre, Bears Ears National Monument of Utah created in 2016 by Barack Obama who was the President at that time and a 50 percent cut to the state's 1.9 million – acre, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument created by Bill Clinton in 1996. Thus, according to documents that were published in the previous week by the Washington Post.

Republican Congressman Rob Bishop of Utah, who is the chairperson of the House Natural Resources Committee, is expected to introduce legislation after the announcement by Donald Trump to carry out the cuts and this is per the statement of a House aide. It is still not clear if the measure would have a chance of passing the Republican - controlled body.

Any effort at these cuts is however likely to touch off lawsuits by Native American tribes like the Navajo, Hopi, Pueblo of Zuni, Ute Mountain and Ute Indians who consider Bears Ears sacred and all of which now form a commission that administrates the territory. Natalie Landreth who is an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund said that we will be fighting back and all of the five tribes will be standing together united to defend.

December 16, 2017 - 03:58
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