U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, Senate Democrats Call On Biden Administration To Undo Changes To National Monuments

From the Office of U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich:

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with 18 of his Senate colleagues, sent a letter to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland urging her recommend that President Biden undo any unlawful attacks on the Antiquities Act.

Since 1906, 16 presidents from both parties have used the Antiquities Act to protect places across the nation.

“From Chaco Canyon in New Mexico to Harriet Tubman’s house in Maryland, the Antiquities Act has long protected key landscapes and historical sites. National monuments protect our most precious natural, cultural, and historical resources, and threats to the integrity of any monuments established under the Antiquities Act threaten the protection of all monuments,” wrote the senators.

President Trump eliminated 2 million acres of protections for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments — the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. The previous administration took this action despite the fact that Americans across the country overwhelmingly voiced support for keeping the monuments intact.

The question of the validity of these reductions is being challenged in court, which is now on hold pending the Biden administration’s review of President Trump’s actions. Secretary Haaland visited Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument last week and is expected to make a recommendation to President Biden soon.

“During your confirmation process, you committed to undertaking a thorough review of the Antiquities Act proclamations of the previous Administration. Former President Trump illegally attempted to reduce the protections provided by proclamations that previous presidents issued. We urge you to defend the Antiquities Act and recommend that President Biden review President Trump’s actions and undo any unlawful attacks on the Antiquities Act,” continued the senators.

National monuments and America’s public lands help fuel an $887 billion outdoor recreation industry, which sustains 7.6 million jobs and creates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in local and state tax revenue. In New Mexico alone, the outdoor recreation economy is responsible for 99,000 jobs.

The letter, led by Sen. Heinrich, also was signed by U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawai’i), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai’i), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.)

Find the full text of the letter here.