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Udall, Senate Democrats Press For Commitment To Honor Existing National Monuments Boundaries

on March 31, 2019 - 8:58am
U.S. Sen. Tom Udall
WASHINGTON, D.C. Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, led 16 Senate Democrats in calling on Department of the Interior (DOI) acting Secretary David Bernhardt to make a public commitment to leave existing national monument boundaries intact as originally intended before the Senate votes on his nomination for Secretary of the Interior.
“For more than a century, the Antiquities Act has empowered presidents from both political parties to protect and preserve iconic landscapes and vulnerable cultural treasures across the country. As the President’s nominee to serve as the 53rd Secretary of the Interior, we write to request that you take action to protect many of these landscapes by making a public commitment to leave all existing national monument boundaries intact and ensure they are managed consistent with their original proclamations,” the senators write.
“Specifically, we urge you to officially rescind recommendations that former Secretary Zinke made to President Trump as part of his ill-conceived national monuments review, and to announce that the Department will forego any additional actions to implement the recommendations included in Secretary Zinke’s “Final Report Summarizing Findings of the Review of Designations Under the Antiquities Act” released in December 2017,” the senators continue. “We also request that you make a clear commitment that the Department will not rewrite monument management plans in any manner that is inconsistent with the intent of the original proclamations, particularly in light of pending legal challenges to the elimination of national monument protections in Utah.”
The letter highlights that 99 percent of the more than three million public comments received by the Department of the Interior during the monument review process opposed any changes to current national monument designations. The protection of national monuments across the country helps fuel neighboring communities’ economies, attracting outdoor recreation tourism and creating millions of jobs.
“These actions would be also an important signal that, if confirmed, you intend to comply with the Antiquities Act and respect the fundamental separation of powers between the legislative and executive branches of government. Such a signal would be especially important given that numerous legal experts have concluded that President Trump lacked the authority to revoke or diminish a national monument designation,” the senators write.
In addition to Udall, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jeffrey A. Merkley (D-Ore.), Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), Michael F. Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory A. Booker (D-N.J.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.).
Senator Udall is also the lead sponsor of the ANTIQUITIES Act that specifically protects existing national monuments and is the leader of a bicameral Congressional Amicus Brief in litigation challenging the Trump Administration’s decision to dramatically roll back two national monuments in Utah.

The full text of the letter is below and HERE.