Just the Beginning: Trump Giving Crown Jewels to Drillers, Miners, Grave Robbers and Yahoos

December 4, 2017

The face of the west is changing, as newcomers to cities like Salt Lake, Denver,  Phoenix and Albuquerque, including more liberal leaning urbanites from the coasts, as well as increasing numbers of latinos, who tend to understand environmental issues and climate change in particular.
In the meantime, old line politicians like 83 year old Orin Hatch of Utah, are still playing by the Reagan era “Wise Use Movement” playbook, part of Big Fossil’s long term plan to open up all public lands to exploitation and pillage.

Recent hostile town hall meetings sponsored by Rep. Jason Chaffetz featured angry crowds firing questions about the GOP’s destructive stance on public lands – it might have played into Chaffetz’ early retirement. (see footage from Monday’s anti Trump demonstration below)

This seems to me like an opportunity for Western state progressives.

NPR:

On a visit to Utah on Monday, President Trump announced his proclamations dramatically shrinking the size of the state’s two massive national monuments, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Taken together, Trump’s orders mark the largest reversal of national monument protections in U.S. history.

The Bears Ears National Monument will go from roughly 1.3 million acres to roughly 228,000 — only about 15 percent of its original size. And Grand Staircase will be diminished by roughly half, from its nearly 1.9 million acres to about 1 million. The specific numbers were provided to reporters by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke prior to Trump’s announcement in Salt Lake City.

“No one values the splendor of Utah more than you do,” Trump told an enthusiastic crowd Monday, “and no one knows better how to use it.”

He noted that before making the decision, he had discussed it with Zinke and the state’s two GOP senators, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee. Both senators have been outspoken critics of the two national monuments — both protected under the 1906 Antiquities Act by Democratic presidents — framing them as significant federal overreach that deprives Utahans of their own land.

And Trump echoed those criticisms Monday.

“These abuses of the Antiquities Act give enormous power to faraway bureaucrats at the expense of the people who actually live here, work here and make this place their home,” Trump said.

His decision caps months of speculation and a controversial review of the boundaries of large national monuments that protect more than 100,000 acres of U.S. public land. The review, conducted by Zinke, originally looked at more than two dozen national monuments designated by presidential decree since the 1990s.

Utah, with its new Bears Ears monument and the Grand Staircase National Monument, has always been at the center of the debate and largely what spurred the review. Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, created Bears Ears shortly before leaving office, while the Grand Staircase monument dates to the Clinton administration.

And depending on which side you’re on, Monday’s announcement is either about an overreaching federal government that prevented development on large amounts of federal land with little local support or it’s the latest example of the U.S. government breaking promises with Native Americans and eroding environmental protections.

The case to reduce the monuments

Utah’s Republican congressional delegation, along with county commissions and conservative groups, pressed the administration to open up these federal lands once more for private use.

“President Trump’s decision to reduce these monuments allows us to still protect those areas that need protection, while at the same time keeping the area open and accessible to locals who depend on this land for their daily lives,” said Matt Anderson of the Utah-based Sutherland Institute.

Anderson says large, public-land national monuments hurt rural counties. These areas already have large amounts of federal public land, he says, where cattle grazing, mining and other types of private enterprise are heavily regulated.

Rural Utah is still fuming from President Bill Clinton’s designation of the Grand Staircase in 1996, which grandfathered in existing cattle-grazing leases and other uses but also nixed a proposed coal mine. Clinton signed the proclamation at the Grand Canyon, in Arizona, and Utah officials at the time said they were blindsided.

During his speech Monday, Trump said the national monument designations also “prevent Native Americans from having their rightful voice over the sacred land where they practice their most important ancestral and religious traditions.”

Many tribal leaders and activists are likely to deeply object to this assessment. For months, they have passionately campaigned to preserve the national monument designations — and now, upon hearing Trump’s proclamations, they are promising to sue.

“The Navajo Nation has made repeated requests to meet with President Trump on this issue. The Bears Ears Monument is of critical importance, not only to the Navajo Nation but to many tribes in the region,” Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye said in a written statement.

“The decision to reduce the size of the Monument is being made with no tribal consultation,” he said. “The Navajo Nation will defend Bears Ears. The reduction in the size of the Monument leaves us no choice but to litigate this decision.”

“Bears Ears National Monument is not just for Native Americans but for all Americans,” Vice President Jonathan Nez said. “This is a sad day for Indigenous people and for America.”

Bears Ears is considered some of the most culturally significant land in the American Southwest. Its famous Red Rock Canyon country is dense with ancient artifacts, cliff dwellings and sacred burial grounds. Just a couple of years ago, some of the land was proposed for additional federal protections, but a bill backed by Utah’s House Republicans stalled in Congress. Then, last year, the Obama administration held meetings in the region before declaring it a national monument in late December under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Tribal leaders took to the streets of Salt Lake City over the weekend to protest the president’s decision. At a rally Saturday, Ethel Branch, attorney general of the Navajo Nation, predicted the president wouldn’t even set foot on or see the land in question.

“I want him to visit Bears Ears before he takes any action,” Branch told a cheering crowd at a rally outside the Utah Capitol.

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One Response to “Just the Beginning: Trump Giving Crown Jewels to Drillers, Miners, Grave Robbers and Yahoos”

  1. indy222 Says:

    My outrage glands are exhausted lately. They need recovery time. This administration is disgusting beyond all limits.


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