Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), Chairman of the Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee, today decried President Obama's use of the century-old Antiquities Act to create five new national monuments. The Antiquities Act, established in 1906, gives the executive branch the authority to restrict access to federally owned land by circumventing the open, public, process typically taken by Congress to establish new land designations, including national monuments.
The five new national monuments include: 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.
"I do not oppose the creation of new national monuments. However, I do oppose the use of the Antiquities Act to do so because it promotes a certain type of unilateral governance and sets a dangerous precedent. Congress' lack of capitulation to the President's political whims does not justify unilateral action. If these designations are worthy of implementation, then they will succeed on their own merits. However, they ought to be considered in the open and public Congressional process so all parties, including those who support and oppose the measure, have an equal opportunity to voice their concerns. The Antiquities Act is an abuse of executive privilege and robs the American people of a fair and open process. For instance, the costs associated with these new designations ought to be considered openly and publicly. Our country's financial status is fragile, and so we must be mindful of the new expenditures to which we commit taxpayers. The President may not favor the Congressional process but we have three branches of federal government for a reason. A rush to judgment does a disservice to the process and ultimately the taxpayers, who have entrusted their elected officials to make wise and prudent decisions. I am disappointed that the President opted to use the Antiquities Act and I hope that moving forward, the President will consider allowing the fair legislative process to function as it was intended."