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Monuments Could Be Blocked in Senate Bill

Risch, Crapo Say Restrictions Needed on Presidential Declarations

July 28, 2010

Washington, DC - Presidential authority to declare new federal monuments on public land will be restricted under legislation introduced today by Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo. The National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act, S. 3660, calls for Congressional approval within two years of any executive order by a President seeking a monument designation. If the two-year deadline passes without congressional approval, the land would return to its original status.

The legislation also requires that the President provide Congress with information about the actions 30 days in advance. It calls for public hearings and as small a land mass as possible for the monument designation. Risch and Crapo had previously sent Interior Secretary Ken Salazar a letter warning against sweeping decisions about national monuments.

“This legislation brings transparency to the monuments process. It is imperative that the state and communities where a monument could be located have a voice in the designation, and that Congress play a role in the process as well,” said Risch.

“We recently learned of Interior Department discussions involving potential acquisition of 140,000 acres of private lands in the Pioneer Mountains,” Crapo said. “This legislation is critical so that the public and Congress can review and engage on such decisions involving private and public lands.”

Original Senate sponsors include Risch, Crapo and Senators John Barrasso (R-Wyoming), John Ensign (R-Nevada), Michael Enzi (R-Wyoming), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Pat Roberts (R-Kansas).

The authority to make executive decisions on national monuments was granted in the Antiquities Act of 1906. It has been used more than 100 times since its passage, and frequently creates significant controversy at the local level where land changes designation.