Back in February, a leaked memo from the Department of the Interior showed that the Obama administration was considering designating as many as 17 new national monuments throughout the West, effectively closing off huge swaths of land to development. That this was being done without the input of Congress or local authorities angered many. Now Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, Chairman of the Congressional Western Caucus and Ranking Member on the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands has uncovered 14 more pages from the document that were previously unavailable.
The new pages show a federal bureaucracy that has contempt for the legislative process and the input of elected representatives. “Should the legislative process not prove fruitful, or if a nationally significant natural or cultural land resource come under threat of imminent harm, the BLM [Bureau of Land Management] would recommend that the Administration consider using the Antiquities Act [to designate a national monument],” reads the new document.
In a statement, Bishop unloaded on the Obama administration. “These 14 pages are further evidence of this Administration’s efforts, under the guidance of Secretary Salazar, to control western lands by unilaterally locking them up without input from local residents and stakeholders nor the approval of Congress. Their plotting behind closed doors is disingenuous at best and flies in the face of this Administration’s so-called ‘transparency’,” said Bishop. “Thousands of westerners whose livelihoods depend upon access to our public lands stand to be affected by these decisions and yet this document blatantly goes out of its way to exclude their input or participation. If there was any question about whether or not this Administration has declared a war on the West, these new documents are evidence enough.”