Bishop Reacts to President’s Creation of a New National Monument in New Mexico
WASHINGTON—Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01) shared his dismay over President Obama's decision to create a new 500,000 acre National Monument along the U.S.-Mexico border in the state of New Mexico. The President utilized the executive authority granted by the controversial Antiquities Act to create the new national monument.
"The President's decision to create the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument is disappointing, but it comes as no surprise. It was one of the areas listed in the U.S. Department of Interior's leaked Treasured Landscapes document, which offered a glimpse into the Administration's intentions for new national monument designations.
"The most surprising aspect of this decision, though, is the President's total disregard for the well-known drug trafficking and human smuggling issues plaguing public lands along the border. Today's decision will exacerbate rather than improve these very real issues, and for that, the President should be held personally accountable. Even the two Democrat Senators recognized the need to release the Wilderness Study Areas in order to help U.S. Border Patrol have improved access to these areas. With today's decision, this land will remain off limits to the U.S. Border Patrol for routine security operations, making this area a prime drug trafficking corridor as we've seen in many other areas along the southern border. Drug cartels are highly organized operations that take full advantage of wilderness and other federal lands where the Border Patrol has limited access.
"The many issues associated with the new national monument would have come to light if the Administration had bothered to allow public input as part of the decision making process. And the staged public meeting held during Secretary Jewell's visit doesn't count. The ability to exclude the public and members of the local community is one of the biggest issues plaguing the controversial Antiquities Act and is one I hope to fix.
"The President may have felt pressured to do something nice for his special interest group allies but he shouldn't have done it at the expense of the safety of the country," said Congressman Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Subcommittee.
Congressman Bishop recently introduced the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act (EPIC Act) to ensure that the public has an opportunity to participate in the discussions and decisions regarding new national monument designations. Specifically, the bill requires the President to apply the National Environmental Policy Act to future national monument designations [background of EPIC Act].
Congressman Bishop has also introduced legislation that would give the U.S. Border Patrol greater access to federal lands along the border, cutting off some of the most highly traveled routes by drug smugglers and human traffickers. Information on the National Security and Federal Lands Protection Act [H.R. 2398]can be found here.