Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist issued the following statement today praising Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke’s efforts to highlight some of the most prevalent issues facing national monument designations under the Antiquities Act.
Secretary Zinke and the Department of Interior (DOI) issued a report this week in response to an Executive Order issued by President Trump in April directing DOI to study the Antiquities Act and monument designation process.
“The actions taken today by Secretary of Interior Zinke represent a huge step forward in highlighting the need for bringing more transparency and accountability to the national monument designation process under the Antiquities Act.
“For too long the Antiquities Act has allowed for the unbridled abuse of executive power, far beyond what lawmakers intended when the Act was first passed. The Antiquities Act has permitted past Presidents to designate vast swaths of public land as national monuments unilaterally, often with little to no input from affected stakeholders.
“In recent decades the size and scope of public land designations has increased exponentially with the Act having been used 26 times in the last 20 years to designate monuments well over 100,000 acres in size. Many designations have been made despite a lack of historically recognized significance, such as landmarks, prehistoric structures, or historic objects.
“Under former President Obama Americans witnessed the extent to which executive authority under the Antiquities Act could be abused. During the Obama Presidency the average size of monument designations was over 190 times larger than when the Act was first used under President Roosevelt. Currently 66 percent of the land and water mass of all national monuments was designated solely by the Obama Administration.
“Secretary Zinke’s work to highlight abuses and inefficiencies within the national monument designation process is a positive step towards reining in unchecked executive authority under the Antiquities Act. By focusing on positive reforms the Secretary has taken the first step to begin restoring the voice of rural communities and local stakeholders in federal land decisions, and rebuilding public trust.
“I look forward to working with Secretary Zinke and President Trump to improve transparency and accountability under the Antiquities Act and the national monument designation process.”
Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Interior