NCBA: Reining in the Antiquities Act
This week, NCBA and PLC sent a letter to Congress urging support of an amendment to rein in the rampant abuse of the Antiquities Act. The amendment was introduced as part of the debate on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2016 (S. 2012) by Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah) to limit the President’s authority to create national monuments using the Antiquities Act of 1906.
The Antiquities Act grants the President the authority – through a presidential proclamation – to create national monuments on public lands. To date, more than 80 natural areas have been set aside as park or preservation lands, including nearly 137 million acres of public lands.
These monument designations do not require any review, economic impact analysis, or public input – only the stroke of the President’s pen. Yet, they have the power to destroy rural economies and eliminate rightful multiple use of our public lands.
The Reality for Ranchers
Many times, the President will create national monuments on millions of acres of land at a time, significantly disrupting the economies of local communities that reside on or adjacent to those lands. The livestock industry is consistently impacted when public land that has been used for ranching for generations is taken away.
When land is designated as a national monument, new regulations greatly limit multiple uses – including livestock grazing – or create restrictions on access and range-improvement maintenance. These restrictions are often so costly that ranchers can no longer afford to use their public land allotments. When ranchers lose their allotments, the local economy suffers -incomes plummet, businesses close and schools shutter.
In 1996, President Clinton designated the 1.9-million acre Grand Stair-Case Escalante National Monument in Utah. As a result:
Four full grazing allotments have closed
Parts of an additional four grazing allotments have closed
Schools are closing
In 2011, the per-capita income in counties affected by the monument was nearly $2,000 less than comparable counties
Due to past controversy, the Presidential powers under the Antiquities Act have been limited in two states. The first after the Jackson Hole National Monument designation in Wyoming in 1943, and again after President Carter created 56 million acres of national monuments in Alaska. NCBA and PLC strongly urge Member of Congress to support Senator Lee’s amendment.
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