Bishop, Chaffetz React to Obama Monument Designation

Utah Congressmen Rob Bishop and Jason Chaffetz responded to President Obama’s impending use of the Antiquities Act in Lincoln County and Nye County Nevada to create the 700,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument.  

In making this announcement, the President will unilaterally wipe away a locally developed land plan without any public involvement or regard for the legislative process.

Rep. Bishop:“Following the example of Jimmy Carter, the Obama Administration is using and abusing the Antiquities Act as a political weapon. The worst part is that the act doesn’t guarantee public input. In fact, the vast majority of monuments that have been created through the Antiquities Act were created with no public input whatsoever. The people in the counties deserve the right to continue their work on locally driven land initiatives without threats like these hanging over their heads.”

Rep. Chaffetz:“Presidents should be barred from using the Antiquities Act within a county that has enacted a land management plan.  The Congressional process guarantees public involvement and ensures that all local interests are considered.  To avoid the debacle that is now Lincoln County, any county participating in a local planning process should demand such an exemption be included in the final bill, I know that I will.”

Lincoln County, Nevada went through an exhaustive, locally-driven land planning process in 2004 that resulted in the creation of 700,000 acres of wilderness (P.L. 108-424).  During floor debate at the time, Senator Harry Reid lauded the bill and said it was a “compromise that is fair, forward-looking and provides for conservation, recreation, and development in Lincoln County and for southern Nevada."  

In describing the compromise, Sen. Reid went on to say, “We fully expect some criticism for what the bill does not do. For example, it does not designate the more than 2.5 million acres that the Nevada Wilderness Coalition advocates in Lincoln County. Nor does the bill release all the wilderness study areas in Lincoln County as others would advocate.”  

With today’s announcement, the locally developed compromise will be disregarded for a President who never held a single meeting within the Lincoln County community. 

Additional Background on the Basin and Range National Monument:

Legislative Bailout

  • Legislation to protect the area included in the new monument has garnered little support in the House and Senate. 
  • A Member of Congress that does not even represent the area introduced the House bill while the Senate bill does not have a single cosponsor.  
  • By comparison, every single Nevada lands bill that was enacted in 2014 had bipartisan support.

Land Protection Overkill

  • Proponents of the monument say land protections are needed to protect the manmade art formation known as “The City”. 
  • While The City is an impressive land-art formation unlike any other, its size is roughly comparable to the National Mall in Washington, D.C.  
  • An expansive boundary of the size and scope of the Basin and Range National Monument is not needed to protect an area as small as The City.