Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) voted in favor of the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act (H.R.1459), of which he is an original co-sponsor.
For Immediate Release
Date: March 26, 2014
Contact: Garrett Hawkins
Rep. Gosar Votes to Give the Public a Say
‘Presidents shouldn’t have the authority to unilaterally create National Monuments’
Today, U.S. Congressman Paul A. Gosar, D.D.S. (AZ-04) voted in favor of the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act (H.R.1459), of which he is an original co-sponsor. This legislation would modify the Antiquities Act to require public input before a president creates a National Monument. The bill passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 222 to 201.
After the vote, Rep. Gosar said, “National Monuments can be powerful symbols of our nation’s historical and natural heritage. But presidents shouldn’t have the authority to unilaterally create National Monuments by executive fiat. Public input should be sought first. It is, after all, the people living near these National Monuments who will be the most affected by their creation. These folks deserve a strong voice when it comes to what happens on federal lands near their communities.
“There is a long and shameful list of abuses of the Antiquities Act whereby Presidents of both parties far exceeded the intent and letter of the law. In the West, where the majority of land is locked up by the federal government, the people need a voice before an authoritarian swipe of the pen bars them from even more land. The time to close this loophole is long overdue. Most land designations already require public participation and National Monuments shouldn’t be any different. This bill finally brings public participation to the monument-designation process.”
Presidents derive their authority to unilaterally designate National Monuments from the 1906 Antiquities Act, the intent of which was to give presidents the ability to protect small, specific areas of land with historic or scientific value on an emergency basis. Since its passage, however, presidents of both political parties have gone beyond the Act’s original intent and have designated National Monuments that limit the use of and access to large areas of land.
Currently, the Antiquities Act does not require any involvement for National Monument designations from the public, nor from local, state or federal elected officials. H.R.1459 would change the law to allow the public and elected officials to provide their input on potential National Monument designations. Specifically, this legislation requires compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which necessitates Congressional approval in certain circumstances, and ensures private property can’t be included in the designation without written consent from the owners. NEPA is already statutorily required for most public-land-use decisions.