House votes to revoke the executive’s unilateral national monument authority

posted at 8:01 pm on March 26, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

It would be easy to interpret this bill as just another spiteful, obstructionist, hostage-taking move from a Republican-controlled Congress that wants so badly to do anything and everything to get in the way of President Obama that they don’t even care how small and petty they have to get anymore… but that would be inane. For people who actually care about the environmental health of the American landscape and want to protect it from politicized profiteering, this should be a pretty heartening move, regardless of who’s passing it and the administration it currently affects. Via The Hill:

Members passed H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, in a 222-201 vote. Democrats cast the bill as an anti-environmental measure, and only three Democrats supported it — ten Republicans opposed it.

The bill would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act, which today gives the President the ability to designate monuments without any public process or environmental review. Republicans said this power is too broad, and can too easily transfer state land to the federal government.

The textbook example cited by Republicans is the 1996 decision by President Clinton to designate nearly two million acres of land in Utah as a national monument. Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) said Clinton’s decision to  create the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument was made without any advance notice, and was announced by Clinton during a pre-election tour of the west. …

The legislation would add new requirements under the Antiquities Act to require presidential designations to undergo reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It would also limit presidential designations to one per state in a four-year term.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), said the 1906 law was originally intended to allow the government to quickly protect sensitive environmental land. But he said it needs updating to take into account state-wide interests.

Think about it. Why is it taken as environmentalist gospel that adding more lands and monuments to the already overwhelmed federal estate, which covers almost a third of the United States’ surface area and doomed to suffer through big government’s bureaucratic inefficiencies and delays, is necessarily a good thing that automatically equates with “conservation”? Why would we want to add the responsibility of stewarding more land to the deferred maintenance backlog that is already billions of dollars in the hole? So the ruling administration can make all sorts of ideology-based designations about how that land can be used from the top-down, or deliberately use it to score political points during, say, a government shutdown?

No, which is why this legislation really shouldn’t about President Obama at all (although he did, by the way, add 1,665 acres of federal land to the California Coastal National Monument just earlier this month, so). I don’t want a president of any political stripe wielding the ability to unilaterally set land aside because it feels good, or because it looks good politically — although, unfortunately, this is probably nothing doing in the Senate for now.


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Obama uses this authority to put land out of reach for development, just as Clinton did.

ConstantineXI on March 26, 2014 at 8:03 PM

Bishop, Rep. Rob that is.

Flange on March 26, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Who are the 10 Rinos who voted against it?

William Eaton on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Kind of a weak amendment, I would say. The Act allows the President, in his sole decision, to take land away from the States and cede it to the Fed.

How did such a stupid act get passed in the first place?

Lance Corvette on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Schadenfreude, your new monument.

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

Kind of a weak amendment, I would say. The Act allows the President, in his sole decision, to take land away from the States and cede it to the Fed.

How did such a stupid act get passed in the first place?

Lance Corvette on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Even if it’s a law, it’s CLEARLY Unconstitutional, and any judge that ruled otherwise deserved to be strung up.

ConstantineXI on March 26, 2014 at 8:13 PM

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

omg I’m so laughing (waving at ya Bmore)

CoffeeLover on March 26, 2014 at 8:15 PM

The Capitol should be set aside as the testing ground for the next gen neutron bomb.

vnvet on March 26, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Why is it taken as environmentalist gospel that adding more lands and monuments to the already overwhelmed federal estate, which covers almost a third of the United States’ surface area and doomed to suffer through big government’s bureaucratic inefficiencies and delays, is necessarily a good thing that automatically equates with “conservation”?

Erika, Gene Karpinsky and his cabal would like to have a word with you.

bettycooper on March 26, 2014 at 8:17 PM

We’re going to need to sell the mineral rights to those lands to help pay off our debt.

rbj on March 26, 2014 at 8:17 PM

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

omg I’m so laughing (waving at ya Bmore)

CoffeeLover on March 26, 2014 at 8:15 PM

Ditto what CoffeeLover said.

bettycooper on March 26, 2014 at 8:18 PM

The point? It is not as if he will sign it.

astonerii on March 26, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Who are the 10 Rinos who voted against it?

William Eaton on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

The 10 Republicans were the following:

Rodney Davis (IL-13)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Jim Gerlach (PA-06)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Michael Grimm (NY-11)
Pete King (NY-02)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Pat Meehan (PA-07)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
David Reichert (WA-08)

ShainS on March 26, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Schadenfreude, your new monument.

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

LMAO.

ShainS on March 26, 2014 at 8:23 PM

The Capitol should be set aside as the testing ground for the next gen neutron bomb.

vnvet on March 26, 2014 at 8:16 PM

Heh.

I almost posted the exact sentiment (nearly word-for-word) a few days ago, but thought it might be a tad over-the-top.

Now re-thinking that latter assessment … ;-)

ShainS on March 26, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Just about everything the left does INCREASES costs.

CW on March 26, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Less land drives up home prices.

CW on March 26, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Good deal. Laughter, we can all use more of. ; ) If any of you see Schadenfreude please direct him to it. Thanks. ; )

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:29 PM

The 10 Republicans were the following:

Rodney Davis (IL-13)
Mike Fitzpatrick (PA-08)
Jim Gerlach (PA-06)
Chris Gibson (NY-19)
Michael Grimm (NY-11)
Pete King (NY-02)
Frank LoBiondo (NJ-02)
Pat Meehan (PA-07)
Erik Paulsen (MN-03)
David Reichert (WA-08)

ShainS on March 26, 2014 at 8:21 PM

Really quite surprising as those slugs don’t usually vote to bone common sense and conservatives.

arnold ziffel on March 26, 2014 at 8:31 PM

We’re going to need to sell the mineral rights to those lands to help pay off our debt.

rbj on March 26, 2014 at 8:17 PM

I think that is a good idea. When you are out of cash you sell assets.

Kaffa on March 26, 2014 at 8:32 PM

Obama declares the route of the Keystone pipeline and a 100 swath on each side a national monument.

No need to approve it then.

Governor Andrew Coumo gets national monument designation for the Marcellus Shale in New York, no need to approve fracking.

patch on March 26, 2014 at 8:33 PM

Kind of a weak amendment, I would say. The Act allows the President, in his sole decision, to take land away from the States and cede it to the Fed.

How did such a stupid act get passed in the first place?

Lance Corvette on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

In a word (two, actually) Theodore Roosevelt. It was part of his great conservation drive as POTUS.

Some good things did come out of that. Notably some of the first regulations on mine waste disposal and the breakup of several cartels in the minerals business, including the then-infant petroleum industry; TR did his “trust-busting” along with his interest in conservation.

But in the last fifty years it has been used to strangle not just mining, logging and the POL industry, but virtually all human use of many areas. For instance, Clinton and his IntSec, James Watt, used it to not only seize half of Utah as Federal land, they used the National Monument gambit to restrict access to much of it to non-vehicular. That is, it was Ok for hikers or muleback, but no cars, SUVs, bikes, or even snowmobiles in winter. In short, unless you were a hard-core orienteering member of the Sierra Club, STFO or you’d be arrested.

They tried to turn Utah into a playground for the neo-Luddite environmental elite’. Which is what the present lot dreams of doing to the rest of the country.

It doesn’t make much difference, anyway. The Senate won’t pass it, and if it did, The One would veto it. Even if the GOP takes the Senate in November, he’ll still veto it. If they pass it by a veto-proof margin, he’ll simply ignore it and sign EOs just like he does now.

People tend to forget that The One isn’t in bed with the neo-Luddites just because they’re big contributors. It’s mainly because he’s a deep-eco, primitivist mystic fanatic himself. He wants the entire world to look like the bazaars he wandered through in Indonesia as an eight-year-old. He thinks that’s what Utopia looks like.

I’m sure most of the people who have to actually live there have a very different opinion.

So forget this bill. It’s a reasonable measure, that will not get past a monomaniac narcissist who, like most with his disorder, simply cannot be reasoned with.

clear ether

eon

eon on March 26, 2014 at 8:36 PM

The bill would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act

the father of proggtardia signed it.

newrouter on March 26, 2014 at 8:37 PM

The Democratic Party is owned by the “environmentalists”, and the environmentalists can get Obama to declare just about anything a “national monument”.

oldennis on March 26, 2014 at 8:40 PM

The bill would amend the 1906 Antiquities Act, which today gives the President the ability to designate monuments without any public process or environmental review. Republicans said this power is too broad, and can too easily transfer state land to the federal government.

If this power is left in place, obviously it gives a Republican president the power to give federal land back to the states, right? The power to take has to include the power to give, right?

slickwillie2001 on March 26, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Schadenfreude, your new monument.

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

LMAO. Bravo, Bmore!

PatriotGal2257 on March 26, 2014 at 9:02 PM

Clinton and his IntSec, James Watt,

no good allan no

james g watt

newrouter on March 26, 2014 at 9:23 PM

If this power is left in place, obviously it gives a Republican president the power to give federal land back to the states, right? The power to take has to include the power to give, right?

slickwillie2001 on March 26, 2014 at 8:51 PM

Yeah, just like the Republicans did upon assuming power in 1995…right?/

gryphon202 on March 26, 2014 at 9:30 PM

Yeah, just like the Republicans did upon assuming power in 1995…right?/

gryphon202 on March 26, 2014 at 9:30 PM

P{residential power, so 2001. Same thing though.

astonerii on March 26, 2014 at 9:35 PM

Ah, how cute. It’s like they think Obama will abide by a damn thing they do.

Midas on March 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

How did such a stupid act get passed in the first place?Lance Corvette on March 26, 2014 at 8:11 PM

Back when we still had unpopulated wildernesses and territories, cowboys and injuns et al.

AH_C on March 26, 2014 at 9:56 PM

Ah, how cute. It’s like they think Obama will abide by a damn thing they do.

Midas on March 26, 2014 at 9:49 PM

Boner will cry if he doesn’t.

KMC1 on March 26, 2014 at 10:01 PM

It’s a good idea that should become law, no matter who does it. Congress should never have given the president the unilateral power to take ownership of land as a national monument.

It won’t go anywhere in the current Senate, but if enough votes shift in 2014, it’s possible.

And it needs to be proposed again and again until people start to realize that the president’s power to declare land a national monument is far too broad.

There Goes the Neighborhood on March 26, 2014 at 10:11 PM

So, yet another symbolic bill the House passed that has absolutely no chance of ever even coming to a VOTE in the Senate, let alone making it to the President to veto it.

I can hardly contain my enthusiasm.

Meople on March 26, 2014 at 10:15 PM

Schadenfreude, your new monument.

Bmore on March 26, 2014 at 8:12 PM

…lol!…Manneken Pis!
My first souvenir when we went to Europe when I was a kid.

KOOLAID2 on March 26, 2014 at 10:32 PM

It’s good that they are focusing on extremely critical issues such as this.

Another Libertarian on March 27, 2014 at 6:28 AM

[sigh]

There is no Constitutional Authority for the Federal Government to own land except for Post Offices and Roads (I.8.7), land for the seat of government also known as the District not to exceed 10 miles square (I.8.17), and any land purchased from a state by consent of the state legislature for the exclusive use for Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful BUILDINGS. (I.8.17)

National monuments, no matter how well intentioned, are not Constitutional and we have seen how such intent has been poisoned to seize land from the states and render them useless for the citizens of that state.

The 1906 Antiquities Act is un-Constitutional.

The current amendment serves only to entrench an un-Constitutional Act.

dominigan on March 27, 2014 at 8:27 AM

States need to start exercising their sovereignty and claim eminent domain on all land within their borders. If I were a governor during the “shut-down”, I would have sent state troopers and/or national guard to the parks to re-open them in the name of the State and arrest fed workers if necessary.

Nutstuyu on March 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

States need to start exercising their sovereignty and claim eminent domain on all land within their borders. If I were a governor during the “shut-down”, I would have sent state troopers and/or national guard to the parks to re-open them in the name of the State and arrest fed workers if necessary.

Nutstuyu on March 27, 2014 at 8:59 AM

I seem to remember that this was actually done. I remember reading the article, but forget where this occurred.

dominigan on March 27, 2014 at 10:02 AM

Yes, good.

David Blue on March 27, 2014 at 10:49 AM