Republicans seek to limit national monument designations

Republican-backed legislation in the U.S. Congress would make it harder for the government to designate new national monuments. The proposed Congressional Oversight of the Antiquities Act, sponsored by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, would eliminate the presidential authority to designate national monuments on public lands without the approval of Congress. That approval would have to come […]

Republicans seek to limit national monument designations

Republican-backed legislation in the U.S. Congress would make it harder for the government to designate new national monuments.

The proposed Congressional Oversight of the Antiquities Act, sponsored by Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, would eliminate the presidential authority to designate national monuments on public lands without the approval of Congress. That approval would have to come within six months of the designation or possibly even earlier if Congress’ session ends first. If the designation does not get support from Congress, no lands within its boundaries could be included in future monument designations for 25 years.

The most common way for a national monument to receive designation is for a president to designate it as one.

The House Committee on Natural Resources’ Subcommittee on Federal Lands discussed this legislation on Wednesday.

“This Act has never been updated since 1906 and I think that we can all agree that the United States has drastically changed and progressed since Teddy Roosevelt was president,” Miller-Meeks said.

This practice received increased attention under President Donald Trump when Republicans sought to undo former monument designations, including the sacred ancestral homeland of Navajo and Pueblo people. Trump’s effort led to a review of more than two decades of monument designations, including the designation of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near Las Cruces. Ultimately, Trump reduced the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments, both in Utah. President Joe Biden later restored those monuments to their original boundaries.

Related: What does Utah have to do with NM’s national monuments?

In addition to restoring the boundaries of those national monuments, Biden used the Antiquities Act to protect the Emmett Till and Mamie Till-Mobley National Monument in Mississippi and the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukveni-Ancestral Footprints of the Grand Canyon National Monument in Arizona.

During the hearing, ranking member Rep. Joe Neguse, a Democrat from Colorado, pointed out that, since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906, new national monuments have been created under all but three presidents. The three presidents who chose not to designate any national monuments were Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Trump used the Antiquities Act to designate Camp Nelson National Monument.

National monuments also benefit local economies by bringing in tourism dollars and supporting job creation. Some of the most popular national parks, including Grand Canyon and Zion, started as national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.

Neguse said the legislation would conflict with the congressional intent behind the Antiquities Act and runs contrary to public opinion. Polls have shown that the public tends to support national monuments.

“Monuments designated through the Antiquities Act prioritize the protection of naturally culturally and historically significant places,” he said.

Neguse argued that the Congressional Oversight of the Antiquities Act “would roll back over 100 years, about that a century, of precedent and congressional intent, threatening our ability to protect these lands and recognize the cultural value that they often hold for Indigenous communities in particular.”

He said the Antiquities Act passed in 1906 as a way of ensuring lands and resources were protected by allowing a president to bypass congressional gridlock.

Republicans who oppose the use of the Antiquities Act to create national monuments say that it allows presidents to unilaterally set aside lands for conservation purposes even when local communities are against the designation. However, the most controversial national monument designations have come as a result of petitions and efforts by local community members. Bears Ears National Monument is an example of one of these controversial designations. Indigenous advocates, tribes and Pueblos who either currently call the region home or consider it their ancestral homeland petitioned President Barack Obama to protect it as a national monument; however, other community members opposed in part due to fears that it would restrict the ability to expand extraction of fossil fuels or uranium. Some opponents also said that the Bears Ears designation was too big and that they could support a smaller national monument. 

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

Both Republicans and Democrats skeptical of guv’s proposals for special session

A representative from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office outlined on Thursday the bills the governor’s office will back during the upcoming special session, but…
Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

Senators throw support to embattled Ivey-Soto

By Justin Horwath, New Mexico In Dept Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto is running for a fourth term despite the state Democratic Party’s decision to censure…
AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

AG announces legislative priorities for upcoming special session

Attorney General Raúl Torrez announced on Thursday his legislative priorities for July’s special legislative session, including the creation of a crime victim’s unit to…
PNM seeks rate increase

PNM seeks rate increase

Customers of New Mexico’s largest electric utility may pay more for energy in the future. The Public Service Company of New Mexico filed an…
DOE announces funding to help bring technologies to market

DOE announces funding to help bring technologies to market

National laboratories across the country, including Sandia National Laboratories, will use millions of dollars in federal funding to spur the deployment of projects related…
LANL plans to release highly radioactive tritium to prevent explosions. Will it just release danger in the air?

LANL plans to release highly radioactive tritium to prevent explosions. Will it just release danger in the air?

By Alicia Inez Guzmán, Searchlight New Mexico Last fall, the international community rose up in defense of the Pacific Ocean. Seafood and salt purveyors,…
Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

Stansbury outlines funding secured for early childhood and youth services programs

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury secured $8.3 million for childhood development and youth services in the 1st congressional district through federal community project funding. Stansbury,…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

Heinrich questions FDA leadership on baby formula safety, mifepristone

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf answered questions about the safety of human milk formula and mifepristone on Wednesday. Sen. Martin…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

Many Democrats endorsed by reproductive rights group won primaries

With nearly 53 percent of the precincts reporting as of 11 p.m. Tuesday, most of the legislative candidates endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New…
New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

New Mexico food banks say food insecurity is on the rise

Food insecurity is on the rise as state benefits have decreased and the future of federal benefits have an uncertain future.  Sonya Warwick, director…
Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

Abortion medication access remains after Supreme Court ruling

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Texas-based Christian group trying to restrict access to abortion medication on Thursday. The case, FDA v. the…
How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

How abortion care has changed since Dobbs 

In the month of March 2024 alone, 1,650 clinician-provided abortions took place in New Mexico, according to the reproductive research organization, the Guttmacher Institute.…
Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican Herrell signs onto what critics call anti-transgender message

Republican candidate Yvette Herrell, who is running against Democrat Rep. Gabe Vasquez for New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District seat, committed herself to a message…
Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

President Joe Biden leads former president Donald Trump in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral seats, according to a poll commissioned by NM…
Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

Democrats announce spending on CD2 race

The Democratic National Committee announced on Monday that it will spend $70,000 for organizing staff to aid U.S. Rep. Gabe Vasquez, the Democrat trying…
NM voters support abortion rights

NM voters support abortion rights

A majority of New Mexicans believe that New Mexico’s abortion laws should be less restrictive or should remain about the same as they are…
Heinrich leads U.S. Senate race as general election campaigning starts

Heinrich leads U.S. Senate race as general election campaigning starts

Incumbent U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich starts the general election for his second reelection campaign ahead by seven points over his Republican challenger. According to…
Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

Post-primary, Biden leads Trump in NM

President Joe Biden leads former president Donald Trump in the race for New Mexico’s five electoral seats, according to a poll commissioned by NM…

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report