Democrats Force Committee Markup on Secretary Zinke’s Secret National Monument Review Process

Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and 30 House Democrats have set the agenda for today’s 4:00 p.m. ET markup by forcing Committee Republicans to consider Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's "review" of our national monuments. Secretary Zinke’s lack of transparency in the monument review process moved Democrats to introduce a House resolution (H.Res. 555) last week – a tactic used by the Minority to demand information from the Trump administration – to obtain the final version of the secret monuments report and supporting documents related to the executive order President Trump issued in April.

Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) is holding the markup today because House rules require the Committee to report out the resolution within 14 legislative days. If the Committee fails to act in that time, the resolution could be brought straight to the House floor for consideration.

“Our requests for information on Secretary Zinke’s ‘review process’ of our national monuments have been dismissed, so now we’re demanding answers,” Grijalva said. “We will not let our national monuments and sacred sites be turned over to the oil and gas industry without a fight. Today’s vote will reveal who on the Committee favors big corporate interests and who stands with the majority of Americans who support protecting our public lands and oceans.”

To respond to Democrats’ call for a vote on the resolution, Chairman Bishop rushed to introduce his bill (H.R. 3990) to dramatically weaken the Antiquities Act. Bishop’s bill would limit national monument designations to 85,000 acres, require that all but the smallest monuments go through a state approval process and authorize the president to drastically reduce the size of national monuments. Ranking Member Grijalva points out that Bishop’s addition of language regarding the president’s monuments authority is a clear admission that President Trump currently does not have the authority to reduce or abolish national monuments. 

“The Republican-backed Antiquities Act bill proves what we’ve been saying all along, Trump doesn’t have the authority to eliminate Utah’s Bears Ears or Grand Staircase-Escalante, Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou or any other national monument,” Grijalva said. “Republicans will claim that this bill gives us what we want – more transparency – but the truth is that it was introduced without any input from stakeholders, Tribes or the scientific community. This is further evidence that Chairman Bishop’s Antiquities Act bill was thrown together at the last minute with only one special interest group in mind: the oil and gas industry.”

The Delicate Arch in Arches National Park is one of the most iconic sites in Utah – so much so that it appears on the state license plate – but under Chairman Bishop’s bill, it would not have qualified for protection under the Antiquities Act. Arches National Park was first designated as a national monument by President Hoover under the Antiquities Act in April 1929 and was later established as a national park by President Nixon.

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