President Joe Biden accepted the recommendations of his Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last week in announcing a massive expansion of the boundaries of some already huge national monuments.
The Bears Ears National Monument in Utah is growing by more than 1.3 million acres. The Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in the state is increasing by more than 1.8 million acres. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off of the coast of New England are seeing the reintroduction of significant commercial fishing regulations.
The announcement signals the reversal of cuts made by President Donald Trump in 2017 when he pulled back the expansion of boundaries created by President Obama at the end of his term. Trump used the authority granted by the Antiquities Act to reduce the size of Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase by about half. Trump also removed environmental regulations governing Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine in 2020.
Biden is now restarting the vast federal land takeovers overseen by Barack Obama. The Obama administration saw the expansion of 29 national monuments to take in over 553 million additional acres under the Antiquities Act. That law was enacted during the Theodore Roosevelt administration in 1906 to protect cultural resources from exploitation or destruction.
The law was not intended to empower the president to create functional national parks without the involvement of Congress. The law is designed to apply when some actual object needs protection and is situated on existing federal land. The land designated for security is also required to be “the smallest area compatible” with what is necessary to protect the endangered object.
Obama ran roughshod over the requirements of the law, and now Biden is following in his footsteps.
The progressive way of governing revolves around perverting the purpose of the Antiquities Act to control the public use of public land instead of “stewardship and management” as it was intended for.
Bringing land inside the boundaries of designated national monuments cuts off common uses like racing, fishing, and recreation. Members of the public and the communities surrounding the monument boundaries suffer the loss of enjoyment and economic development.