Reform of Antiquities Act Urged
Reform Needed, Group Says: No President Should Be Able to Create a 5,000-Square-Mile National Monument Without Consulting Congress and Affected States
National Center for Public Policy Research Calls on Congress to Repeal 1906 Law that Allows Presidents of Both Parties to Bypass States and Localities When Creating National Monuments
Says States Lose Opportunities for Environmental Management of Lands After Monument Designations Are Made
Hiking, Fishing, Swimming, Hunting and Other Uses Also Often Are Restricted, which In Turn Kills Local Jobs and Reduces Local Tax Revenues
Washington, D.C. - R.J. Smith and Bonner Cohen, senior fellows for environmental policy at the National Center for Public Policy Research, are responding to the White House's announcement that President Obama is today unilaterally creating a new 5,000-square-mile national monument off the coast of New England.
President Obama is creating the monument without the approval of Congress or local state legislatures under the 1906 Antiquities Act, and has chosen the name "The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument."
"The 1906 Antiquities Act was designed to allow presidents to protect the theft of items from ancient Indian archaeological sites, and significant natural items such as fossils or petrified wood," said Amy Ridenour, chairman of the National Center for Public Policy Research. "Because the scope of the Act was perceived to be limited, and due to the slowness of communication and transportation during that era, the Act was written not to require Congressional or local approval for monument designations."
"Communications and transportation technologies have advanced tremendously in 110 years while presidents of both parties have exploited the Act to expand federal land control in ways never dreamed of by Congress in 1906," Ridenour continued. "The National Center for Public Policy Research has called on Congress to repeal the Antiquities Act of 1906 and replace it with a law that allows not just Presidents, but Congress, affected states, and affected localities to have a say in federal monument designations. These designations affect states and localities tremendously. Unknown to most, they limit environmental management of affected lands. They also limit multiple-use activities such as hiking and fishing, and kill jobs and with them the loss of local tax revenues, which in turn affects revenues of local public schools and public services."
The National Center for Public Policy Research published a new paper, "Time to Repeal the Antiquities Act of 1906," by R.J. Smith earlier this week. It is available online here.
President Barack Obama and his out-of-control pen seem to be on a mission to demonstrate disregard of the Congress and the American people. He is accelerating the pace of his use of the long out-of-date Antiquities Act of 1906 to lock up vast expanses of the nation's land and waters -- in no-use or extremely limited-use categories. He is effectively creating national parks and wilderness areas -- areas traditionally under the purview of the Congress.
He is doing this against the wishes of state, county and local officials and the working men and women in or adjacent to those areas.
Such designations, if they are to be created at all, should be done following careful debate by the U.S. Congress and the officials of the affected areas.
The President should be representing the interests of all Americans and not just a crusade to please the radical Green fringe. Hopefully, his actions of the past few weeks will be of such concern to members of Congress that they will begin immediate efforts to repeal this antiquated law and return the management decisions of our land and water to the American people.
R.J. Smith has served as a senior fellow in environmental policy at The National Center for Public Policy Research since 2005. Once president of a local Audubon Society chapter, Mr. Smith has studied environmental policy for nearly forty years and coined the term "free market environmentalism." He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of the Interior, a consultant to the President's Council on Environmental Quality, and as a special assistant at the EPA.
The Administration's alleged concern for undersea wildlife is ludicrous. This is the same Administration that has proposed giving operators of giant industrial, and taxpayer-subsidized, wind facilities 30-year permits to kill thousands of eagles and other birds. The area's red crab fishery already operates under a management plan that has been certified by the independent Marine Stewardship Council. These are the kinds of arrangements that protect rare species and the livelihoods of fishermen. We see how well the Washington 'protects' eagles and other avian species on wind-farm-laden federal land. Who can seriously believe they'll do a better job in the Atlantic Ocean?
Bonner R. Cohen is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research. His articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Investor's Business Daily, the New York Post and dozens of other publications. He has testified before U.S. Senate and House committees and has spoken at conferences on three continents, and is the author of two books, including "The Green Wave: Environmentalism and its Consequences (Washington: Capital Research Center, 2006)."
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