Utah Senator Robert Bennett introduced legislation yesterday that would prevent any President — now or in the future — from designating new National Monuments in Utah without the consent of Congress. The move came just days after a leaked Department of Interior memo showed that the agency is eyeing 14 potential new Monuments, including two in Utah. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar explained that the memo was just a draft. Click here for the full story.
Hostility to protected public lands in Utah is nothing new, but this is an unusual step. Since 1906, the American Antiquities Act has given US Presidents the authority to designate National Monuments from any sites "situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States." Even George W. Bush used the Antiquities Act to designate a National Monument. Senator Bennett's legislation does not stand much of a chance of passing in this Congress, but it demonstrates how adamantly opposed Utah's elected officials are to protecting spectacular wild places like the San Rafael Swell and Cedar Mesa.
It's amazing that the state that benefits economically from the outdoor industry's trade show — held twice yearly in Salt Lake — works so hard to obstruct protections for its special wild places.