Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) released the following statement after introducing H.R. 3946, the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, legislation which updates the 1906 Antiquities Act in order to protect property rights, water rights and jobs from presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act:
“While originally created in good faith, the Antiquities Act has been repeatedly abused in order to appease special-interest groups and bypass the legislative process. Shamefully, President Obama has exceeded the intent of this law more than any other American president, designating or expanding 19 national monuments and locking up more than 1.25 million acres of land. Unfortunately, he isn’t done yet, and I expect several more overreaching declarations in the next 14 months.
“Regardless of political affiliation, presidents on either side of the aisle shouldn’t have unilateral authority to create massive new national monuments by executive fiat without local public input. It is, after all, the people living near these national monuments who will be the most affected by their creation. These folks deserve to have a strong voice regarding the use of public land near their communities.
“Unilateral designations that circumvent Congress typically result in devastating consequences for local communities and negatively impact future economic prosperity. The livelihoods of thousands of Americans are at stake. Our nation’s public resources are best managed when the public is intimately involved in the process. It is far past time that Congress reform this abused executive privilege by requiring local stakeholder input and approval before blocking off massive swaths of land. I will continue to do everything in my power to oppose the misguided effort to lock up 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed. The strong showing of support for this bill provides further evidence that the American people agree.”
National monument designations under the Antiquities Act typically have significant consequences that negatively affect grazing rights, water rights, wildfire prevention, and other land management activities. These declarations also result in some of the most restrictive land-use regulations possible and also greatly impact hunting, fishing, OHV, and other recreational activities.
The Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act contains six commonsense provisions, the majority of which have had broad, bipartisan support from members of Congress in the past which includes:
•Requires written consent from private property owners before including their private property. (H.R. 1459 last Congress)
•Ensures declarations don’t increase the amount of funds appropriated in any fiscal year. (H.R. 1459 last Congress)
•Prohibits designations in counties where there is significant local opposition. (Hardy-Gosar Amdt. to H.R. 2822 this Congress)
•Water Rights language that ensures designations won’t negatively impact private water rights. (S.1416 this Congress)
•Limits designations under this law to 5,000 acres or less. (Mirrors provision in H.R. 1459 last Congress)
•Requires local consultation and concurrence before any declarations. (Mirrors concurrence language in H.R. 1555 this Congress)
On July 8, 2015, the House successfully passed an amendment by recorded vote spearheaded by Congressman Gosar, Congressman Cresent Hardy (NV-04) and Congresswoman Cynthia Lummis (WY-AL) to prohibit public land management agencies from carrying out declarations under the Antiquities Act in counties where there is significant local opposition, including the proposed Grand Canyon Watershed National Monument. Read more HERE.
On February 18, 2015, Congressman Gosar spearheaded an effort with 24 members of the House discouraging the president from unilaterally designating 1.7 million acres in the Grand Canyon Watershed as a National Monument. Read more HERE.
There were 25 original cosponsors that joined Rep. Gosar in introducing the Protecting Local Communities from Executive Overreach Act, including: Representatives Mark Amodei, Brian Babin, Ken Buck, Kevin Cramer, Paul Cook, John Duncan, Trent Franks, Cresent Hardy, Tim Huelskamp, Walter Jones, Steve King, Raul Labrador, Doug LaMalfa, Doug Lamborn, Cynthia Lummis, Patrick McHenry, Martha McSally, Dan Newhouse, Richard Nugent, Steve Pearce, Steve Russell, Matt Salmon, David Schweikert, Chris Stewart and Ryan Zinke.
Endorsements of H.R. 3946 so far include: the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC); the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association (ROHVA); Specialty Vehicle Institute of America (SVIA); Arizona Farm Bureau Federation; Arizona Cattle Feeders' Association; Arizona Cattle Growers' Association; Arizona Liberty; Arizona Mining Association, Arizona Rock Products, Arizona Small Business Association; Bullhead Area Chamber of Commerce Concerned Citizens for America; Ellsworth Ranch; Grand Canyon State Electric Cooperative Association; La Paz County Stockmen's Association; Mohave County Board of Supervisors; New Mexico Cattle Growers’ Association; New Mexico Wool Growers, Inc.; New Mexico Federal Lands Council; New Mexico Stockman magazine; Livestock Market Digest Newspaper; Town of Fredonia; Veritas Research; Whitewater Cattle CO.; Apache County Supervisor Barry Weller; Pinal County Supervisors Cheryl Chase, Stephen Miller and Anthony Smith, Yavapai County Supervisors Craig Brown, Jack Smith and Thomas Thurman; Gold Canyon Republican Chairman Pam Burks; Citizen Ms. Gail Montanye Golden.
H.R. 3946 is supported by all five Arizona Republicans and blocks two misguided monument efforts in the Grand Canyon Watershed and the Sedona Verde Valley, both of which have significant local opposition. The bill accomplishes this task by explicitly prohibiting declarations in Coconino, Mohave and Yavapai counties by executive fiat.
Congressman Gosar’s bill requires concurrence from local communities and the State before any future declarations can be made under the Antiquities Act.