Grijalva: Trump Destruction of National Monuments No More Legal Than Muslim Ban

Washington, D.C. – President Trump is expected to announce at 2:30 p.m. EST today that he will attempt to drastically shrink Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through a presidential order with no legal basis. President Trump will likely move forward with Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendation to shrink the two Utah monuments by approximately 85 percent, making this the largest reduction of national monuments in history and could open the land to big corporate developers and the oil and gas industry.

Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva pointed out in a memo last week that the president currently doesn’t have the authority to reduce the size of national monuments and that any move to do so will quickly be challenged in court.

“This order to destroy our national monuments is as legally sound as the Muslim ban,” Grijalva said. “Mr. Trump seems to take a perverse joy in ignoring federal law and dismissing the wishes of Native American tribes, conservation leaders and millions of everyday Americans. Presidents don’t have the power to wipe existing monuments off the map and Republicans know it. This is an unpopular president making unpopular decisions without proper legal authority on behalf of ideological extremists and the oil and gas industry. This is the damage that results when we leave Republicans in charge.”

Both national monuments protect sacred Native American land and artifacts important to several tribes’ cultural identity. Bears Ears National Monument was designated by President Obama after years of discussions and meetings with tribes, stakeholders, local government leaders and community members.

The Trump administration’s decision, on the other hand, comes without any public acknowledgment of the more than 2.5 million public comments submitted in support of national monuments as part of this summer’s Interior Department “review” of federal lands.

“Old white men sitting in Washington don’t get to dictate what is and is not sacred to Native Americans,” Grijalva said. “This is a return to the bad old days of rejecting tribal pleas for recognition and equal treatment. Bears Ears is protected today because President Obama listened to tribes and the American people instead of the oil and gas industry. We can’t say the same for the Trump administration.”

Ranking Member Grijalva released a report in August documenting the oil and gas industry’s influence in Secretary Zinke’s monument review process. In October, more than 30 House Democrats introduced a resolution demanding transparency on the Trump administration’s review of the 27 national monuments under consideration.

Committee Republicans rejected the resolution, which would have required Secretary Zinke to produce his monuments report and any supporting documents related to the executive order President Trump issued in April.

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