At the heart of the debate is the 1906 Antiquities Act, which gives the president powers to unilaterally designate a site a national monument without going through a National Environmental Policy Act process, as Congress must do.
Utah Republican Rep. Rob Bishop, sponsor of H.R. 1459, which is the bill’s official name, believes that this more than 100-year-old law creates a dangerous loophole whereby the president can bypass the deliberative (and often lengthy) process of receiving public input before establishing a national monument. “The American people deserve the opportunity to participate in land-use decisions regardless of whether they are made in Congress or by the President,” Bishop said Friday. “This bill ensures that new national monuments are created openly with consideration of public input.”