House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) released the following statement after President Obama announced his intentions to unilaterally designate five new National Monuments using presidential powers granted under the 1906 Antiquities Act.
"The Obama Administration not only sees the sequester as an opportunity to make automatic spending reductions as painful as possible on the American people, it's also a good time for the President to dictate under a century-old law that the government spend money it doesn't have on property it doesn't even own.
President Obama has closed the White House to public tours but he's unilaterally ordering the National Park Service to spend scarce dollars on little-known, privately-owned property in Delaware.
Over one hundred years ago the Antiquities Act was passed to allow a President to act when there was an emergency need to prevent destruction of a precious place -- yet President Obama is acting on simple whim as no imminent threat of destruction or harm is posed at any of these five locations.
Several of these designations may merit preservation and be popular with some advocates in the local community, but this outdated law can be used by a President to unilaterally impose policies unwelcome and strongly opposed by local elected leaders and Governors for the economic harm caused to their small rural communities and states. Especially troubling are the inclusion of private property in these new monuments and the lack of transparency that surrounds monument designations where the White House and President work in secret and are able to thwart public review, public comment and consideration of environmental and economic impacts. The law is in need of review and reform to guarantee transparency and the approval of local communities and their elected leaders.