Hatch: Limiting the President’s Monument Authority an Important Step to Protect Utahns

Lawmakers in the United States Senate Tuesday considered an amendment to the Senate’s bipartisan energy bill that would protect Westerners from federal land grabs. 

The amendment, offered by Senator Mike Lee, R-Utah, maintains the President’s authority to designate federal lands as national monuments under the Antiquities Act, but requires both Congressional approval and the approval of state legislatures for monument designations to remain in effect. If Congress and the affected states have not passed resolutions ratifying the designation within three years of the President’s action, it will expire immediately. Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the senior Republican in the United States Senate and a longtime advocate of restoring Utahns’ control over public lands, voiced his strong support for the proposal, which he has cosponsored. 

“This amendment is a meaningful step toward protecting our rural families and communities from the potential harm large monument designations could inflict on local families and economies,” Hatch said.  “In 1996, I stood up for my fellow Utahns when President Clinton designated the Grand Staircase Escalante monument—a unilateral action that blatantly ignored the important heritage of the land and the impact the designation would have on the livelihood of local communities. Land grabs such as this underscore the arrogance of federal power. This amendment empowers the states and reaffirms the principles of federalism by allowing Congress and affected states to be involved in the approval of new monuments.”

Senator Hatch has championed Utah land rights over nearly four decades of public service. In 2011, he introduced a bill to prohibit the extension or establishment of national monuments in Utah without the express authorization of Congress. Senator Hatch is committed to reining in the power of the executive branch by reasserting Congress’s role in designating federal monuments. Some states, such as Wyoming, have already received a guarantee that the federal government will not designate new national monuments without congressional approval. Senator Hatch is currently fighting in Congress to secure that same protection for Utah and all other states.