Current Issue

But, Congress can Defund National Monument Plans!

On August 8, 2023, in Coconino County, Arizona, President Biden announced the designation of 917,618 acres of land to be known as the Baaj Nwaavjo I’tah Kukvni Grand Canyon National Monument.  This is his fifth monument designation since he was elected president bringing sharply into focus his intentions of designating many more before the end of his term.

Claiming he is saving ancestral Native American lands for future generations; the real story is the designation locks up the lowest-cost and lowest impact source of uranium mining in the United States.  Uranium is used for clean nuclear energy and provides 20 percent of U.S. electricity and 50 percent of carbon-free electricity.  We currently import most of the uranium we use.

Fortunately, Congress has the power and opportunity to stop this if they will defund the development of monument plans, which are required to implement the new restrictions. If they take this action, it will roll back the 30×30 agenda.

Biden made clear he intends to permanently preserve 30 percent of America’s land at the signing ceremony.

“My first week as president, I signed an executive order establishing our country’s most ambitious conservation goal ever. I made a commitment that we will protect 30 percent of all our nation’s lands and waters – conserve all – 30 percent of all our nation’s lands and waters by 2030. And we’re on our way. And we’re delivering,”

The designation of 917,618 acres is in addition to the current 1.2 million acres that makes up the Grand Canyon National Park.  Biden, as many presidents prior, is abusing the Antiquities Act of 1906.  The law states monuments are to be limited to “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”

Fortunately, the Supreme Court may be addressing this very issue.  In 2021, Chief Justice John Roberts questioned the scope of presidential power to expand monuments and even invited challenges to the Antiquities Act.

Because of Roberts’ invitation, the state of Utah and two Utah counties – Kane and Garfield – challenged Biden’s expansion of two national monuments in 2021 – the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monuments.

Unfortunately, on Friday, August 11, 2023, U.S. District Judge David Nuffer dismissed their case claiming Biden can issue proclamations creating monuments “as he sees fit” and said those actions are not reviewable by the court.

Both Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah’s Attorney General Sean Reyes said the state would begin work immediately to appeal the decision predicting the issue would ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

American Stewards has also been helping Kane and Garfield County in the development of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Plan, which the Bureau of Land Management has made its highest priority to complete before the Biden term ends.  Specifically, ASL has been helping the Counties insist the plan be coordinated, and policies brought into alignment with the local position, as directed by the Federal Land Policy and Management Act.

Locking Up Our Nation’s Natural Resources

Most of Biden’s designations lock up America’s greatest mineral reserves and natural resources needed for our nation’s needs and prosperity.  He is intentionally destroying our nation’s greatest sources of clean energy, electrification, jobs, and economic growth.

In Biden’s executive order 14008, announced during his first week in office, he not only proclaimed he was going to put 30 percent of all land and waters in the U.S. off limits by 2030, he also banned oil, gas, and mineral extraction in New Mexico, shut down nickel and cobalt mining in Minnesota, and banned all new oil and natural gas leases on federally-owned lands.

In a Congressional hearing, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), asked of Biden’s Interior Secretary Deb Haaland about the 20-year moratorium on all oil, gas, and mining leasing within a 10-mile radius of New Mexico’s Chaco Culture National Historical Park.  She had no response except to say, “Thank you for that information.”

Zinke followed up by explaining China controls the supply chain of critical minerals that are necessary to the manufacturing of electric vehicles and our national defense and added that to satisfy the present requirements needed for both, it would take an increase of 2,000 percent of mining for 20 years.  Again, Haaland’s response was “Thank you for that information.”

Chairman of the Western Caucus Dan Newhouse (WA-04) condemned Biden’s Grand Canyon monument designation stating it “continues a pattern of shutting down resource development on public lands, exacerbating supply chain issues, and increasing reliance on foreign nations for important minerals and fuels.”

Regardless of the fact there is no credible or scientific reason for setting aside 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters, there is no Constitutional or Congressional authority either.  Our citizens need a place to live and work. We need minerals for everything we produce.  Our society depends and runs on oil and natural gas developed from our land.

List of Biden Designations

In his speech designating the Grand Canyon National Monument, Biden listed his “accomplishments” during his presidency to achieve his 30×30 goal proving he and his administration are serious about taking our land.

As of August 2023, these are just some of the areas he has protected to achieve 30×30:

  • Grand Staircase-Escante and Bears Ears Monuments in Utah, expanded to 3.2 million acres
  • 9 million acres in Alaska in Bristol Bay and the Tongass Forest
  • Boundary Waters in Minnesota, 225,000 acres, 20-year moratorium on mineral development
  • 770,000 square miles in the Pacific Ocean southwest of Hawaii
  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, 4,913 square miles, one-third of the coast of New England
  • Camp Hale in Colorado, 50,000 acres
  • Spirit Mountain in Nevada, 500,000 acres
  • Chaco Canyon in New Mexica, 336,404 acres, 20-year moratorium on mineral development
  • Castner Range in Texas, 6,600 acres

Defund National Monument Plans

Under the Antiquities Act, the President has the power to withdraw any federal owned lands for a protected national monument.

The Biden administration has signaled its plans to designate as many national monuments as possible using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to achieve its 30×30 goal.  Environmental organizations have encouraged Biden to broadly use the Antiquities Act to lock up as much land as possible before his term ends.

However, Congress has the power to stop this.  They can eliminate funding for the development of the plans by adding an Amendment to the Interior Appropriations Bill expected to be on the House floor this September. The federal government would then be forced to continue managing the Monument area under the existing plan until a new plan is in place.  If Congress refuses to fund the new plan, they stop the enactment of the Proclamation.

The recommended language for this is as follows:

“None of the funds made available by the Act shall be used to develop, revise, or amend resource management plans for National Monuments withdrawn by Presidential Proclamation under the Antiquities Act of 1906 (16 U.S.C. 431-433).  Provided, the Department must continue to manage the Planning Area under the resource management plan in place prior to designation.  Provided further, funding for the development of a national monument plan may be made only by the Member of Congress representing the district in which the proposed Monument is located.” 

If you live in an area where there are federally owned lands, then your community is a potential target for a national monument withdrawal.  We suggest you contact your Member of Congress and request they offer this language to the Interior Appropriations Bill.

Tell Congress they can roll back the land grab and stop the monument designations from being implemented by defunding all current and future monument plans.

You can look up your member’s contact information here.