Yesterday, we provided a commentary by U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop on the subject of, “Antiquities Act is a Menace to Constitutional Government, Part I.”
Today, we provide his Part II, follow-up commentary along with committee action to cure the Act from future abuse. Please scroll down.
This commentary also appeared earlier this morning in the Washington Examiner. -dh
Subcommittee Chairmen Respond to Antiquities Act Reform Legislation
TODAY, the Committee will markup H.R. 3990, the “National Monument Creation and Protection Act” or “CAP Act.” Introduced by Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), the bill protects archeological resources while ensuring public transparency and accountability in the executive’s use of the Antiquities Act.
“The Constitution gives to Congress alone the jurisdiction over public lands. While the executive should be able to move swiftly to protect small archaeological sites from imminent threat of looting or desecration, the decision over whether to set aside vast portions of land in perpetuity should only be made after the lengthy debate, public input and accountability that are the unique attributes of the legislative branch,” Subcommittee on Federal Lands Chairman Tom McClintock (R-CA) said.
“Our government works best when it works with the people it serves to accomplish objectives for the common good. For too long, our leaders have not adhered to these principles. The ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ seeks to protect the public’s interests from executive overreach through collaboration with local stakeholders, comprehensive review of monument designations and congressional direction on any future presidential monument reductions. I thank Chairman Bishop for his leadership on this issue and look forward to passage of this important legislation,” Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) stated.
“When Teddy Roosevelt created the Antiquities Act, his intent was to set aside unique areas of land, not to cutoff millions of acres for the federal government to control that produces no revenue or benefit – all while hurting local governments. Through the years, the abuse of this power has snowballed to a point where President Obama designated more acreage during his Presidency than all other Presidents combined. This process unfairly eliminates local input altogether and severely limits the public’s access to hunting, fishing, and other recreational activities as well as reasonable resource development on their public lands. It is important that the decision to designate or expand national monuments is returned to Congress, where the local citizens and communities can have a say,”Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chairman Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) said.
“This legislation secures a future for locally supported national monuments, checked executive authority, and empowered local governments. The original intent of the Act is upheld and strengthened with measures that bring us into the twenty-first century. I firmly believe this will provide the accountability we need when it comes to protecting our lands,” Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans Chairman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) stated.
“Regardless of political affiliation, presidents on either side of the aisle shouldn’t be able to create massive new national monuments by executive fiat without local public input. It is, after all, the people living near these national monuments that are most affected by their creation. Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the people that use those lands are intimately involved in the process. Chairman Bishop’s ‘National Monument Creation and Protection Act’ protects private property rights and empowers local stakeholders while also including important clarifying definitions that should have been included in the original law. I am grateful for his strong leadership on this issue and am proud to be a cosponsor,” Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Chairman Paul Gosar (R-AZ) said.
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Restore the Antiquities Act’s Noble Vision, Part II
Representative Rob Bishop, Chairman, U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee
In a Tuesday op-ed, I explained the constitutional threat posed by the Antiquities Act, and why its repeated abuse is inconsistent with the constitutional pillars of the rule of law and checks and balances. As it turns out, there’s a reason the Founders chose these principles as the basis of our government: arbitrary rule has no incentive to be accountable to the people that policies affect. Without that accountability, political and ideological manipulation corrodes the balance of power.
Some of the most egregious abuses – the use of the Antiquities Act as a political weapon – happened under President Bill Clinton’s administration.
In 1996, prior to the designation of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah, Clinton’s then-Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality Katie McGinty stated the following, “I’m increasingly of the view that we should just drop these utah [sic] ideas. we [sic] do not really know how the enviros will react and I do think there is a danger of ‘abuse’ of the withdraw/antiquities authorities especially because these lands are not really endangered.”
Could there be any clearer statement of the prioritization of political ideology over the will of people?
The monument was designated in the waning months of Clinton’s re-election campaign. Its total acreage: 1.7 million — three times the size of Rhode Island. No town halls, no public meetings, and no public comment sessions were ever held in Utah. No input was solicited from local stakeholders or land managers in the area. Utah’s governor, congressional delegation, public officials, and residents from across the state all expressed outrage at the lack of prior consultation or warning of the designation. In what feels like symbolism, the proclamation wasn’t even signed in Utah; it was signed in Arizona.
This story is one of many blatant abuses of the Antiquities Act.
The Trump administration is currently reviewing previous designations to ensure they’re consistent with the law’s intent. Without President Trump having even exercised his authority under the law, Democrats are making every attempt to force the release of the administration’s ongoing deliberations. In a rich irony, for the first time, they are demanding that local communities have a voice in the president’s use of the Antiquities Act.
“Let’s see some transparency and public accountability,” House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., recently said.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M. said, “The public deserves better than predetermined political conclusions.” The executive must “listen to and work with local communities,” he added.
If only their thirst for accountability had made an appearance when previous administrations, in processes shrouded in secrecy, brushed aside the objections of local communities in Utah and other states.
Nonetheless, for those of us who have fought to bring some level of accountability to the law’s use, this newfound desire for it is welcome. Ironically, it is also an admission of the act’s underlying failures.
Last week, I introduced legislation to correct these failures and permanently address my colleagues’ concerns. The National Monument Creation and Protection Act would, like the writers of the Antiquities Act intended, allow the president to unilaterally designate land up to 640 acres. Monument designations between 640 and 10,000 acres would be subject to review under the National Environmental Policy Act. Designations between 10,000 and 85,000 acres would be required to obtain the approval of all county commissioners, state legislatures, and governors in the affected area. The bill also standardizes and limits the president’s power to reshape monuments.
No longer would we have to blindly trust any president to do the right thing. These provisions ensure consultation with locals and robust scientific evaluation through public processes that would be required by law. It strengthens the president’s authority to protect actual antiquities without the threat of disenfranchising people.
If my Democratic colleagues are serious about their calls for accountability, they will support this bill. Together, we have an opportunity to place people over politics and the rule of law over tyranny.
Are Canada’s Energy Decision Consequences Unintended, Intended or Just Unwise?
Take a look here at available Canadian oil sands jobs. Fine, Canada; export those jobs to the U.S. and elsewhere by importing what you could be domestically producing, transporting and consuming! -dh
Unintended/intended? No. Consequences of climate-focused Canadians disapproving adequate new oil & gas pipeline systems. Oil and gas will still come from somewhere. So the “climate” is virtually unaffected by limiting transportation of its own resources. But Canadian wealth and jobs diminish when it sends cash abroad to purchase what, with efficient pipeline systems, could easily have been available at home. And, ironically, importing energy may produce more carbon emissions (i.e. upon which life on earth depends) than building a domestic pipeline. -dh
|Heritage Gas wants to recoup costs of importing natural gas, CBC.ca. The problem is that importing natural gas means paying pipeline tolls to get it here from suppliers, be they in Alberta or the northeastern United States.|
Like it or not, the oilsands are a national project and you’re a stakeholder, CBC.ca. The Energy East pipeline was mourned this week as a “nation-building project” that … Ells at least has a spot in the Canadian Petroleum Hall of Fame….
Energy East pipeline cancellation leaves Rachel Notley ‘deeply disappointed’, Calgary Herald. The Eastern Mainline project would add new gas pipeline and compression facilities to an existing system in southern Ontario, where most of the….
Energy East: Off Again, On Again
|Breakenridge: Don’t despair over Energy East’s cancellation, Calgary Herald. … TransCanada Corp.’s decision to walk away from its application to build the Energy East pipeline certainly came as a big disappointment to political boosters of the project – everyone from Mayor Naheed Nenshi to Premier Rachel Notley, to the provincial conservative opposition, to the federal Conservative opposition, to mayors and premiers in New Brunswick and, yes, even Quebec.|
So why was the plug pulled? Was it, as the federal government insisted, strictly a business decision? Or was it, as many critics of the federal government insisted, a direct consequence of Liberal tinkering in the National Energy Board review process?
Then again, what’s to say it can’t be both?
Just over a month ago, the NEB announced that the Energy East review would — for the first time ever — include consideration of the upstream and downstream greenhouse gas emissions from the project, as opposed to merely the emissions directly associated with building and operating the pipeline itself
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And there is an economic case for both Keystone XL and Trans Mountain. This current federal government did approve the latter, and let’s make sure it can see it through to completion. That doesn’t preclude us from holding it accountable for what happened with the NEB.
So let’s not lose perspective here. The pipeline battle is not lost yet.