Senate Democrats Introduce ANTIQUITIES Act
Sens. Mazie K. Hirono and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) introduced legislation today, Wednesday, Jan. 21, 2018, to enhance protections for national monuments against the Trump administration’s unprecedented attacks on public lands. The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018 reinforces Congress’ intent in the Antiquities Act of 1906: only Congress has the authority to modify a national monument designation.
“When the President and the Secretary of Interior abdicate their responsibility for protecting our public lands, it’s up to Congress to act,” Sen. Hirono said. “Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Honouliuli National Monument were established after years of review, and the national monument designation assists efforts to combat climate change, preserves biodiversity, honors cultural traditions, and recognizes our nation’s history. Mahalo to Senator Udall for his leadership in upholding the Antiquities Act of 1906.”
“President Trump’s unprecedented attack on public lands is not just an affront to the overwhelming majority of Americans who cherish these precious places — it’s also illegal,” said Sen. Udall. “This legislation makes it crystal clear that monuments designated through the Antiquities Act of 1906 may not be altered by future presidents because only Congress has the authority to change a national monument designation, From Rio Grande del Norte, to Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks, to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase, our national monuments enjoy broad support and provide unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural value to New Mexico and the nation. The ANTIQUITIES Act builds upon these existing protections, ensuring that we keep our public lands in public hands and stop the president’s politically motivated attempts to sell off our public lands to the highest-bidding special interests.”
National monuments in Hawai‘i and the Pacific region include Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Honouliuli National Monument, the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, Rose Atoll Marine National Monument and Marianas Trench National Monument
The ANTIQUITIES Act comes in response to President Trump’s announcement that he will eliminate two million acres of protections for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments — the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. The President took this action despite the fact that Americans across the country overwhelmingly voiced support for keeping the monuments intact. During the administration’s public comment process, over 99% of the 2.8 million comments received were in favor of maintaining existing protections for our national monuments.
The ANTIQUITIES Act is also cosponsored by U.S. Sens. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).