The White House announced today that on Monday, March 25th, President Obama will designate five new national monuments using the Antiquities Act. Congressman Rob Bishop, Chairman of the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, stated that he was disappointed President Obama would circumvent the necessary, open, and fair public land designation process to designate swaths of both federal and private lands as national monuments.
"If these designations are worthy of implementation, then they should stand up on their own merits during the open and fair Congressional process, which prioritizes public input. The use of the Antiquities Act cuts out public participation. There is a right way to designate federal lands, and there is a wrong way. Executive fiat is unquestionably the wrong way and is an abuse of executive privilege. The fact that Congress doesn't capitulate to the President's political whims on his specific timeline is hardly justification for taking unilateral action. I am also curious about the immediate and long-term costs of these new monuments. I'm concerned that the President is committing taxpayers to new expenditures when we ought to be cutting back in places beyond our constitutional obligations," said Congressman Bishop. "I am also concerned that the President will again create a national monument on private property. Though the land owners may be willing sellers, this sets a very dangerous precedent and is a gross expansion of executive power."
It has been reported that the President intends to designate the Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland, the First State National Monument in Delaware and Pennsylvania, the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico, the San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state, and the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio.
The land targeted for the Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers Monument in Ohio as well as the lands identified for the monuments in Maryland and Delaware/Pennsylvania consist of significant private lands.