Bill would end presidential designation of monuments without Congressional approval

Editorial - Monday, March 25, 2002
Las Vegas Review-Journal

Westerners were justifiably miffed when the Clinton administration in its final years roped off some 18 parcels of land encompassing more than 5.6 million acres and designated them "national monuments" under the auspices of the Antiquities Act of 1906, thereby declaring them off-limits to most public uses.

The designation of the 1.9 million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah was particularly galling, because local officials weren't even consulted by the president in advance of the announcement.

If a bill just passed by the House Resources Committee becomes law, such outrages would end. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and backed by the Bush administration, would require any new presidentially designated monument comprising 50,000 acres or more to be approved by Congress; local officials, including the governors and members of Congress from the area the monument covers, would have to be consulted in advance of the announcement.

This is a sensible response ... and long overdue, given the rapid growth of urban areas in the West.

Senate Democrats say they'll kill the bill if it comes before them. Which leads us to wonder: Will Nevada's Harry Reid, the Democrats' second-in-command, stand for Westerners? Or eastern environmental elites?


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