Newsroom

Bill, co-sponsored by over 100 members of Congress, reinforces that only Congress can alter national monuments

Senator Murray: “…families in Washington state and around the country have sent a clear message to President Trump that we cherish our nation’s natural treasures and don’t want our iconic landmarks and landscapes sacrificed in order to help line the pockets of special interests”

ICYMI: Senator Murray on attacks on public lands: “…it is clear the Trump Administration will leave no stone unturned in its quest to make the rich richer, even if that means chipping away at tribal treaty rights, undermining efforts to combat climate change, or leaving middle class Americans behind”– MORE HERE

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray joined a group of more than 100 Democratic Members of Congress in re-introducing legislation to protect America’s treasured national monuments against the Trump administration’s relentless attacks on public lands. The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2019 reinforces Congress’ clear intent in the Antiquities Act of 1906: only Congress has the authority to modify a national monument designation. National monuments and America’s protected public lands help fuel an $887 billion outdoor recreation industry, which sustains 7.6 million jobs and creates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in local and state tax revenue.

“Over the last two years, families in Washington state and around the country have sent a clear message to President Trump that we cherish our nation’s natural treasures and don’t want our iconic landmarks and landscapes sacrificed in order to help line the pockets of special interests,” said Senator Murray. “This legislation is an important step by Congress to protect our national monuments for future generations, and I’m proud to work with my colleagues to pass this bill into law and stop President Trump’s repeated efforts to undermine federal protections for our historic public lands and valuable natural resources.”

The ANTIQUITIES Act comes in response to President Trump’s attempt to eliminate 2 million acres of protections for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments — the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. Trump took this action despite opposition from Tribes and the fact that Americans across the country overwhelmingly voiced support for keeping the monuments intact. During the administration’s public comment process, over 99 percent of the 2.8 million comments received were in favor of maintaining existing protections for our national monuments. 

The question of the validity of these reductions is now being challenged in court. In November Senator Murray joined more than 100 Members of Congress in filing an amicus brief, reaffirming that only Congress has this power to change or alter monuments. An outspoken advocate for protecting our nation’s public lands, including natural treasures in Washington state like Olympic National Park, Senator Murray also previously criticized President Trump’s misguided efforts to undermine federal protections for national monuments.

S. 367, the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019, protects and enhances national monuments with three main provisions:

• It officially declares Congress’ support for the 52 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and October 2018 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

• It reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress.

• It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped and that management plans be completed in two years—in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments—and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.

Additionally, the legislation preserves opportunities for hunting, tourism, scientific research, conservation, and cultural uses in national monuments and ensures they are properly resourced. Groups supporting the legislation include the National Parks Conservation Association, Conservation Lands Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Wilderness Society, League of Conservation Voters, EarthJustice, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, Sierra Club, the National Wildlife Federation, Grand Canyon Trust and the Bears Ears Coalition Tribes (Hopi, Navajo, Ute, Ute Mountain Ute, and Zuni).

A summary of the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2019 can be found here. Text of the legislation can be found here.