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Eco-activists target Trump’s national monument rollback with lawsuit

Eco-activists target Trump’s national monument rollback with lawsuit

Additionally, the Navajo Nation is planning its own legal challenge.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7WKWeH6PPM

Legal Insurrection readers may recall thatin October, President Trump indicated he would shrink the size of Bears Ears National Monument, a 1.35 million-acre piece of land former President Obama designated as a national monument just before leaving office.

While he was on a visit to Utah, he officially announced that the federal government would be returning the land back to Utah.

Capping months of speculation, President Trump on Monday signed a pair of executive orders to significantly shrink two of Utah’s national monuments – Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante – that were created by his Democratic predecessors.

The controversial move was pitched by Trump as a win for states’ rights and follows an April review conducted by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on the boundaries of large national monuments. The review initially looked at more than two dozen sites designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.

“I know you love this land the best and you know how to protect it and you know how to conserve this land for many, many generations to come,” Trump told a group of people at Utah’s Capitol in Salt Lake City. “They don’t know your land. They don’t care for your land like you do.”

Trump’s presidential proclamations cut Bears Ears by 85 percent and Grand Staircase-Escalante in half.

Many Utah residents were thrilled!

Predictably, environmental activists were…not quite as happy.

And as Trump came and went, taking monument status on more than 2 million acres with him, hundreds walked the snow-laden streets to kneel on State Street and shut down traffic on one of Salt Lake City’s main downtown arteries.

A standoff ensued with a few dozen Salt Lake City police officers equipped with shields, helmets and body armor.

Monday was the second protest in three days for some who gathered in the fresh snow at the Capitol on Monday morning, singing, chanting and holding signs in support of monuments or against Trump.

“My granddaughter wanted to be here to throw a rotten tomato” at Trump, said Gina Zhdilkov, 56, of Bountiful.

Tomatoes aren’t the only thing being lobbed at President Trump. A group of environmental and conservation groups are challenging President Donald Trump and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in federal court, alleging that Trump did not have the authority to dramatically shrink Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.

The lawsuit, which comprises The Wilderness Society, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and seven other groups as plaintiffs, argues that Trump’s decision to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante was “unlawful” and “exceeds his authority under the US Constitution and the Antiquities Act.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Heather Swift, a spokeswoman for the Interior Department, said: “We are well within our authority,” and referred further questions to the Department of Justice.

Additionally, the tribal government of the Navajo Nation is preparing to sue President Trump over his decision to shrink Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument.

The Navajos, who consider much of the original 1.4 million-acre monument area to be sacred and culturally significant, plan to file a federal lawsuit with four other nearby tribes who had been pushing for the land protections for decades before then-President Barack Obama created it last year.

“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue. The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,” Navajo President Russell Begaye said in a Monday statement shortly after Trump signed proclamations reducing Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, also in southern Utah.

I will simply point out that Trump is shrinking the monuments, which were expanded in Obama’s massive land-grab. There will be plenty of area left for wildlife, recreational use, and tribal rites.

The final outcome of these lawsuits will inform Americans across the nation about the relative power of eco-activsts and those charged with protecting the property rights of their fellow citizens. Fortunately for states-rights enthusiasts, Trump has been busy appointing quality judges.

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Comments

All executive orders by democrats are written in stone and unalterable …

    fscarn in reply to rdm. | December 6, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Once again the lefties borrow from Islamic law.

    “Any non-Muslim country conquered by Islam becomes a waqf, an endowment for all Muslims. It is not only the lands conquered from the disbelieving peoples that constitute a waqf but the entire planet which is destined by Allah to become a waqf managed by the caliph for the Muslims. It is this belief which determines the obligation of universal conquest which is incumbent on every Muslim, possibly by war. A fortiori, none of the countries that were already Islamized can return to their former owners. This argument applies not only to Israel but to all the countries of Europe, Asia and Africa which, conquered and Islamized by jihad, became a waqf.”

    https://www.jihadwatch.org/2017/12/eurabia-and-the-selling-out-of-israel-an-interview-with-bat-yeor

      Islam prohibits any criticism of itself, its practices, or its Muslim practitioners. There is no First Am. under Islam. This, to me, is the one aspect of Islam that the left so lusts to impose on us. To shut us up. Lose the 1A will be to lose it all.

        notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to pfg. | December 6, 2017 at 1:31 pm

        Those eco-wienies don’t understand that they will be sued out of existence soon.

    Milhouse in reply to rdm. | December 6, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Declarations of National Monuments are unalterable by the president. That is the law. It’s a one-way ratchet. The president can declare them, but he has no authority to undeclare them.

    If you think otherwise, cite the law that give him such authority. You can’t do that because it doesn’t exist, so you have no right to claim he has it.

    The proper fix is not to expand his authority even more by letting him rescind National Monuments, but to take away his authority to declare them in the first place. If a site deserves such recognition, let Congress do it.

      If so, I’d *still* love to have him declare the Western California National Seaside Monument, consisting of everything within 100 miles of the Pacific ocean, citing the urgent need to protect the Lesser Pacific Snipe.

      Chgolaw in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2017 at 7:18 pm

      You do know the meaning of the word “monument,” don’t you? It does not mean 2 million acres. That’s called a National Park.

Looked at the claims in the lawsuit – it will be interesting, it rests on the claim that what one President does with a pen and paper can never be undone by another President with his own pen and paper.

Legally, they claim that the antiquities act gives the President no authority to undo anything once it has been done. It looks to me as though the antiquities act is completely silent on whether the President can do this or not, so the decision rests on other legal standards concerning Executive Orders. But, this means they have a good shot at the Circuit Court level if they file the case with a certain Hawaiian judge.

Long term, the antiquities act badly needs to be rewritten by Congress – the original drafters in 1906 could never have imagined that their act could end up being so badly misused.

    Matt_SE in reply to Tom Servo. | December 6, 2017 at 10:57 am

    The left will come up with whatever rationalization they have to. The bottom line is: if the people’s representatives didn’t vote on it, then it lacks the legitimacy of democratic consent.

    Anything passed with a “pen and phone” isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.

      notamemberofanyorganizedpolicital in reply to Matt_SE. | December 6, 2017 at 1:33 pm

      That’s cause all the Leftists are “psycho psycho psycho” – just like their Democrat Leaders.

      Milhouse in reply to Matt_SE. | December 6, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      Bullsh*t. You have no idea what you’re talking about. The people’s representatives voted on the Antiquities Act, and is just as legitimate as any law. It’s foolish and should be repealed, but the same is true of many laws.

        Matt_SE in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2017 at 4:44 pm

        The Antiquities Act. Is that anything like the Logan Act?

          Milhouse in reply to Matt_SE. | December 6, 2017 at 9:15 pm

          The Logan Act is probably unconstitutional, and no prosecutor has ever been willing to test it by charging someone. The Antiquities Act is a normal law like every other, it’s regularly enforced, and nobody questions its validity.

    The Antiquities Act is an anachronism. When it was passed in 1906, the current regulations in effect on BLM managed lands and national park lands did not exist. The main purpose of the Antiquities Act, at the time that it was passed, was to provide quick protection to certain federal lands in order to preserve native archeological sites and prominent natural formations which were being subjected to dismantlement by antiquities hunters. The assumption was that the Congress would take a longer look at exactly what should be protected and to what extent and act accordingly. This was done in both the Jackson Hole case, in 1950, and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. And, Eisenhower reduced existing national monument acreage during his administration. In Obama’s case in Bears Ears, the Act was used to grant certain Native American tribal interests exceptional control over federal lands for political purposes while attempting to create a legacy of ecologic responsibility.

    Today, however, the Antiquities Act has been used mainly to benefit one small group of special interests. Clinton used it to eliminate domestic access to oil shale deposits which benefited foreign oil producers, most notably a Columbian oil cartel.

      Milhouse in reply to Mac45. | December 6, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      It’s not an anachronism; there was never a good reason for the president to be given such a power. If an area clearly needs protecting, surely there will be enough votes in Congress to provide it. If there aren’t then it doesn’t deserve the protection.

        Matt_SE in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2017 at 4:46 pm

        Ah, so I see it is like the Logan Act. Well done.

          Milhouse in reply to Matt_SE. | December 6, 2017 at 9:17 pm

          No, it is not like the Logan Act. The Logan Act is in practise a nullity. Nobody bothers keeping it, because they know they won’t be prosecuted. The Antiquities Act is like thousands of other foolish laws Congress has made, which are nonetheless the supreme law of the land.

        Mac45 in reply to Milhouse. | December 6, 2017 at 9:16 pm

        The problem that existed, at the beginning of the 20th Century, was that there were few administrative rules authorized by Congress for the policing of federal lands. The existing regulatory power of the Executive branch was pretty much limited to national parks and certain mining and grazing rights on western lands. Archeological pot hunters were pretty much unaddressed by federal law except in national parks and monuments. The solution was to grant the President the power to declare specific historical sites national monuments to preserve them. It was assumed that those opposed to such a designation would petition Congress to rescind or amend the monument status. This did in fact happen in 1950 with the Jackson Hole monument as well as in 1980 with the ANILCA.

        Today, there are far more regulations in place to control archeological theft and potentially destructive acts and conditions. This makes the purpose of the original act superfluous. Today, the act is used mainly to prohibit traditional uses of large tracts of wilderness for various political purposes. If the Act is not repealed, good fix would be too amend the law to establish a mandatory 3-5 year sunset on any historical monument designation unless it is ratified by the Congress.

    The eco-nuts are up against it now. A administration that will fight them, and probably make them worse for the effort.

    Milhouse in reply to Tom Servo. | December 6, 2017 at 3:52 pm

    Looked at the claims in the lawsuit – it will be interesting, it rests on the claim that what one President does with a pen and paper can never be undone by another President with his own pen and paper.

    Not just another president. Even the same president, having declared a monument, can’t rescind it. And since you’ve read the law you know this is correct.

    It looks to me as though the antiquities act is completely silent on whether the President can do this or not, so the decision rests on other legal standards concerning Executive Orders.

    It’s very simple. The law gives him the authority to declare these things, so he can. It doesn’t give him the authority to undeclare them, so he can’t.

    The president can’t just do whatever he likes, he needs legal authority. Executive orders are not laws the president makes; they’re just memos to his staff, exactly like those any employer issues, and can’t achieve anything he hasn’t got legal authority to do.

    Long term, the antiquities act badly needs to be rewritten by Congress – the original drafters in 1906 could never have imagined that their act could end up being so badly misused.

    Sure they could. There was never any justification for this law. There’s no conceivable emergency that would require a National Monument to be declared without Congress voting on it. And if Congress is against it then it shouldn’t be declared.

Also, this issue is a prime example of how corrupted our political language has become, and how far we have gone towards “normalizing” the giving of Imperial Power to a President. (If allowing a President to grab milions of acres on a whim, with nothing but his own signature isn’t Imperial, I don’t know what is)

How the park and monument system was supposed to work – National Parks and National Forests (national forests allowing for a much higher level of private use) were to be created by the Congress, and were intended to be used to protect any region which Congress determined deserved such protection and was in the national interest.

National Monuments were described as being smaller places, buildings, or other limited areas of special significance (battlefields, some cemeteries) which did not rise to the level of being worthy of National Park level recognition. Point is, a monument designation was always meant to be for an area that was small and limited.

So fast forward to the Clinton administration – Eco-Activists demanded that Clinton block any energy exploration on large parts of the west, but Congress had no interest in creating a national Park. So Clinton gambled that he could just use the National Monument statute to bypass Congress and institute a de-facto National Park, and that Congress would be too gutless and divided to do anything about it. And of course, since Congress wouldn’t challenge it, the Judiciary wouldn’t touch it. And hence the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument became a defacto land grab.

Fast forward to the final days of the Obama Administration, and it’s easy to see the calculation, “What worked for Clinton can work for me.” And again, Congress did nothing, even though this is a gross usurpation of Congressional power.

Democrats have been hard at work teaching us that a President can do whatever he wants, even when it comes to grabbing private land. And now they’re incredibly upset when another President tries to un-grab it, and actually reverse the Imperialistic ambitions of his predecessors. Well, that is why You Got Trump.

    tom_swift in reply to Tom Servo. | December 6, 2017 at 10:16 am

    As I recall, Clinton wasn’t responding to the demands of eco-ativists, he was motivated by outright bribery. The idea was to preclude the leasing of mining rights in what would have otherwise been ordinary federal lands.

    Milhouse in reply to Tom Servo. | December 6, 2017 at 4:06 pm

    And hence the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument became a defacto land grab.[…]

    Democrats have been hard at work teaching us that a President can do whatever he wants, even when it comes to grabbing private land.

    What are you talking about? Grabbed from whom? Since when have Democrats (or anyone) ever claimed a president can grab people’s land? No national monument declaration has ever grabbed even one square inch of private land. It can’t.

So, in theory, Trump could create the West Coast National Monument out of the State of California and his predecessor could not undo the declaration?

    gospace in reply to MSO. | December 6, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    I recommended in several blog comments and on facebook that he declare a national monument along the entire route of the California High Speed Rail project.

    Milhouse in reply to MSO. | December 6, 2017 at 4:00 pm

    First of all, not all of California is federal land, so he could only make 45.8% of the state a National Monument.

    Second, of course his predecessors can’t undo it. They can’t undo anything he does. His successors are another matter. But the answer is that not even he could undo it.

No of course not because this restriction only applies to Republican Presidents…obviously.

So Antiquities now means “last year”?

    Milhouse in reply to elle. | December 6, 2017 at 4:07 pm

    Don’t be stupid. That is a very stupid comment, as must surely be obvious even to you if you think about it for two seconds.

The fed owns too much land. Most of it should be returned to the states and let them decide if it’s worthy of protection.

There is a judge in Hawaii wishing to rule on this.

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