SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – President Donald Trump announced plans to dramatically shrink two Utah national monuments. Trump announced his visit to reduce the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments Monday during a visit to Utah.
Utah House and Senate Democrats issued the following statement:
The thoughtless actions taken by President Trump are unprecedented and illegal. They are a gift to those who wish to exploit Utah’s natural treasures, and an insult to the Native American tribes who have worked so hard to ensure that their sacred lands are protected from those who would pillage their artifacts and ruin their beauty. Their voices have never truly been heard by this administration or by our state delegation. The overwhelming majority of Native Americans have repeatedly shown their support for the Bears Ears Monument from the beginning. This decision will also hurt tourism and economic vitality for the many Utahns who built their small businesses around Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
This type of policymaking, undertaken merely to undermine the actions taken by the previous administration, is no way to govern. These actions are extremely divisive. Rather than bringing people together to work towards a collaborative land management plan for these national monuments, President Trump has chosen to unilaterally shatter these majestic areas in reckless ways that remove protection from the most beautiful, culturally significant, and scientifically important lands in our state. This action is shameful, petty, and demonstrates an utter failure of leadership.
DNC Chair Tom Perez released the following statement:
“President Trump’s decision to shrink these national monuments and open them up to oil, gas and mining companies is an appalling overreach of his authority. Trump would rather sell off our public lands to the highest bidder than preserve our greatest natural resources. Even worse, opening up these lands to corporate exploitation will desecrate some of the most important cultural sites considered sacred by many Native American tribes in the region, betraying our government’s commitments to those Native communities. Democrats are committed to standing up against the Trump administration’s efforts to auction off our public lands to special interests and corporate polluters. And we’ll fight tooth and nail to protect our most sacred natural parks, lands, and monuments for future generations.”
Watch President Trump’s speech here:
In response, Sierra Club Utah Chapter Director, Ashley Soltysiak, released the following statement:
“The Antiquities Act does not give the President the legal authority to eliminate or reduce a national monument– a power exclusively delegated to the U.S. Congress. This is yet another pathetic example of Trump’s continued abuse of power in support of special interests.
“This action is an unacceptable affront to the Tribal Nations who came together to protect the sacred lands of the Bears Ears National Monument.
“In 1998, Grand Staircase-Escalante was amenable to a land exchange for mineral extraction; it appears that it did not satiate special interests’ greed. Over the last twenty-six years, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and its gateway communities built up its economy through tourism. Replacing recreational landscapes with drilling pads, machinery, and public restriction stands to devastate thriving and emerging businesses and the people they support.
The national monument review and this most recent action to effectively eliminate these places in Utah is disgrace to our democracy.”
Outdoor gear company Patagonia released the following statement:
Americans have overwhelmingly spoken out against the Trump Administration’s unprecedented attempt to shut down our national monuments. The Administration’s unlawful actions betray our shared responsibility to protect iconic places for future generations and represent the largest elimination of protected land in American history. We’ve fought to protect these places since we were founded and now we’ll continue that fight in the courts. – Rose Marcario, President and CEO, Patagonia