March, 27, 2014: The U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, in a 222-201 vote. Democrats cast the bill as an anti-environmental measure, and only three Democrats supported it — ten Republicans opposed it.
Before final passage, the House passed a manager’s amendment clarifying that monument designations of 5,000 acres or less could still be made by the President temporarily to protect sensitive land, after which a formal NEPA process would have to be followed within three years. This passed in a voice vote.
The House considered two other Democratic amendments, from:
— Ron Barber (D-Ariz.), requiring feasibility studies to include an assessment of the monument’s benefits, including jobs and tourism. Passed in voice vote.
— Niki Tsongas (D-Mass.), preserving the ability of the President to declare land as a monument for the protection or conservation of historic or cultural resources related to American military history. Failed 197-223.
March, 26, 2014: The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the “Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act” (EPIC) today. It has been dubbed the “No More Parks Act.”
Back in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, used to create National Monuments. Every president since has used the act to protect natural areas and wildlife.
But now, Republicans, Roosevelt’s own party, are saying that the presidential power inflicts a burden on local communities by designating monuments that may be unpopular with local government. The EPIC Act would limit the number of monuments that could be designated per state and require an environmental-impact study before approval.
It is notable that the Grand Canyon was originally protected using the Antiquities Act. This was opposed by local politicians who were wanting more mining in the area.
Today, would you give up the Grand Canyon for mining?