Montana's Congressman, Denny Rehberg, today visited the Hould Ranch near Malta -- ground zero in the controversy sparked by a leaked "NOT FOR RELEASE" memo laying out plans for the White House to declare millions of acres across Montana as National Monuments. Rehberg has introduced legislation, the Montana Land Sovereignty Act, that would require Congress to approve any such designation in Montana, similar to what is currently required for a designation in Wyoming.
"At first glance, the huge swaths of land targeted for National Monument designation may seem random, but when you overlay those maps with Montana's energy resources, a pattern begins to emerge," said Rehberg , a member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water. "It seems more than coincidental that the lines of this proposed monument are drawn around domestic, made-in-Montana energy, and there are some questions that need to be asked. That's why congressional approval of any new National Monument is so important."
One map, included with the leaked documents that apparently included participation at the very highest levels within the Department of Interior, shows the proposed National Monument area overlaid on a map of "productive oil and natural gas wells." The monument areas seem designed specifically to encompass the most productive areas on the map.
While visiting the Hould Ranch, Rehberg met with several members of the Montana Community Preservation Alliance (MCPA) and elected officials from the region. MCPA was founded to combat the threat of new National Monuments in the area. They strive to preserve the working landscapes and lifestyles of Montana and promote sustainable land use solutions to ensure social and economic benefits for local communities and the region.
"We really more need representation like Denny Rehberg to hold those in D.C. accountable, and we appreciate and support his legislation to require Congressional approval for new monuments and wild lands," said Nancy Ereaux, a member of the Montana Community Preservation Alliance. "We have urged both our Senators to introduce Rehberg's legislation in the Senate, or at least get on board and support his efforts in the House. To date, we haven't even heard back from either of them on this important subject. We also like that he's fighting for less government and not more, because that echoes our feelings."