WASHINGTON– Next week, the House of Representatives will consider H.R. 1459, the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act. This legislation ensures that the American people have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process leading up to a new national monument designation. The legislation ensures that when presidents make a national monument declaration, it is done transparently and with the application of the nation's primary public involvement law, the National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA).
"The American people deserve the opportunity to participate in land-use decisions regardless of whether they are made in Congress or by the President. This bill ensures that new national monuments are created openly with consideration of public input. Decisions that impact the livelihoods of so many people deserve to be made out in the open, not behind closed doors,"
Under the 1906 Antiquities Act, a century old law, the President can single-handedly designate a national monument without fulfilling the NEPA process. Subsequently, the President does not have to take into consideration input from the American people or local citizens. In contrast, a national monument established by Congress goes through an open and deliberative process that includes input and participation from the public.
said Congressman Bishop. "There is no legitimate reason that the President should be able to block the public from being involved in this process, that is why we are adding NEPA to presidential declarations. This bill is simply about transparency and fairness. If the President is confident that a designation is really in the best interest of all American people, then this small modification to the application of the Antiquities Act should be non-controversial."
By circumventing NEPA, the President does not have to take into consideration concerns or priorities of the American public, local community leaders, local businesses, or elected officials. This legislation, H.R. 1459 would apply NEPA to all Presidential national monument designations 5,000 acres or larger. This would bring continuity to the process and would ensure that the public is included regardless of how national monuments are created.
The Antiquities Act was passed before any of today's modern environmental and preservation laws were enacted and was intended to be used in emergencies to protect historic artifacts and sites of scientific value from imminent threat confined to the smallest area possible.
The House Natural Resources committee held a legislative hearing on H.R. 1459 in April and the bill was adopted by the full Committee in July. For more information on H.R. 1459 click here.