To the Editor:
Bears Ears and Grand Staircase/Escalante national monuments being reduced in size by the Trump Administration sets a tragic precedent.
President Obama established the Bears Ears and expanded Grand Staircase using the Antiquities Act, which gives the president authority to establish national monuments to preserve “historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest.” Through the rare cooperation of five Native American tribes, significant data was gathered to show that these monuments include thousands of prehistoric structures and prehistoric artifacts.
Yet, the Trump Administration wants to greatly reduce these two monuments to allow disruptive mining and drilling operations not allowed by the Antiquities Act. As one journalist said, “It was apparent that a Canadian uranium company had more influence with this ‘America First’ government than a coalition of America’s first people.”
Imagine if the coal companies in Montana decided they needed to reduce the size of the Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument to mine coal what an uproar that would bring. And what kind of response would we see if the state of Hawaii discovered minerals on Oahu and wanted to reduce the size of the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (Pearl Harbor) to extract those minerals.
The Bears Ears contains true “Antiquities.” Extractive operations have proven again and again that they will not leave the areas around their operations as they found them. Our current Government should be stopped from undoing such valuable laws as the Antiquities Act.