What Conservation Lands Foundation says
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President Trump issued two proclamations using the Antiquities Act.
One affected Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, and reduces it by more than 1.1 million acres, and “replaces" it with smaller, non-contiguous units. He has carved out the Red Cliffs area, Hole-in-the-Rock road, and countless places with world-renowned fossils and paleontology sites. He has opened much of what’s left to motorized vehicles. Areas cut out of the monument will be open for lease sales (coal, and some oil and gas) in 60 days.
Bears Ears was reduced in size by 85% and divided into two small units, and given two new names. One leaves the area with the actual “bears ears” (the buttes that resemble bears ears), and the other contains parts of Indian Creek. He has carved out hundreds of sacred sights and the proclamation is very unclear as to how Tribes will have a role in managing them. Also opens areas cut out, to oil and gas development.
In short, this is an illegal use of the Antiquities Act, and lawsuits have been filed challenging Trump’s action. The Antiquities Act allows presidents to “establish” national monuments, and there is no language in the Act giving a present authority to reduce, eliminate, or revisit a previous president’s actions.
What the Conservation Lands Foundation has done:
Thanks to our exceptional team of attorneys, co-plaintiffs, board members and staff, legal complaints have now been filed in defense of both the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.
Grand Staircase-Escalante- Our attorneys filed a complaint in the District of D.C. on Monday (11:47pm) on behalf of CLF, Grand Staircase Escalante Partners and Society for Vertebrate Paleontology. We learned our case has been assigned to Judge Emmett Sullivan, which on initial assessment, is a very good case assignment. Judge Sullivan is a Clinton appointee, who has shown willingness to second guess the federal government’s decision in several prior Endangered Species Act lawsuits. More analysis is being done, but in general this is a good start.
Bears Ears- As all parties agreed, the tribes filed first for Bear Ears (Monday evening) and conservation partners waited 24 hours, so the tribes could lead and garner early media. Wednesday evening, our team filed a complaint, also in the District of D.C., on behalf of CLF, Patagonia, Utah Diné Bikéyah, Friends of Cedar Mesa, Archaeology Southwest, Access Fund, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
The president is next promising to “reduce” Gold Butte National Monument in Nevada, and Cascade-Siskiyou in Oregon. We will challenge these actions as well.
This is the first time in the history of the Conservation Lands Foundation that we have filed lawsuits. We have avoided litigation in the past, but these actions required us to respond as forcefully as possible. We believe we have strong arguments, strong co-plaintiffs, and we're prepared to stay with these challenges over the long run.