Sen. Mike Lee says the working-class residents of San Juan County fear that Pres. Obama will pull a Bill Clinton and upend their way of life by creating, with the mere stroke of his pen, yet another vast national monument in southern Utah.
Writes Lee in an op-ed at The Daily Signal:
This past Monday marked the 20th anniversary of President Bill Clinton using the Antiquities Act to create the 1.5 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah.
For most Utahns, this date is not a cause for celebration. It’s a source of anger toward what many see as an out-of-touch and overbearing federal government.
Infamously, the Clinton administration failed to notify the people of Utah prior to announcing the monument designation—probably because the administration knew that nearly everyone in the state was opposed to the idea.
Utah’s congressional delegation, state and county leaders, and local residents all warned that a national monument designation would dramatically disrupt the way of life in southern Utah and make it harder for working-class Utahns to earn a living.
Dismissing these concerns, administration officials insisted that an Antiquities Act designation would actually boost the local economy.
But 20 years later, the verdict is in. The people of Utah were right.
The land-use restrictions that accompanied the monument have wiped out many of the stable jobs that previously formed the backbone of the local economy—including ranching, mining, and timber harvesting.
To the limited extent that the national monument has spurred any job creation, it has been confined to the government and seasonal tourism sectors, which don’t provide the steady work or wages necessary to support a family.
Today, Utah is again facing the threat of another national monument designation. At the behest of mostly out-of-state environmental activists, President Barack Obama is currently considering creating the Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah.
Just like the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, a Bears Ears monument would deprive vulnerable communities of vital economic, recreational, and cultural resources, by unilaterally locking up 1.9 million acres of land.