Bears Ears is a Monument because Rob Bishop couldn’t pass the Public Lands Initiative

 Utah politicians like Rob Bishop are whining that President Barack Obama acted unilaterally in declaring the Bears Ears area a national monument. They only have themselves to blame because they could not pass a legislative alternative.

Congressman Bishop’s Public Lands Initiative was supposed to be that alternative, and Obama administration officials even told him they wanted to see how it played out, but it sat on the shelf for years. In was finally introduced overloaded with special interest favors and light on public support in the waning days of the last Congress – hardly enough time to pass and become law.

Here’s a basic sequence of events that explains how the Bears Ears monument came into being:

  1. Historic antiquities in Bears Ears faced imminent threats that required prompt attention: Archeological sites in the area important to local tribes have been vandalized, looted and robbed.
  1. The Public Lands Initiative failed: For the reasons described above, Congressman Bishop’s PLI has not passed. It has been awaiting a floor vote in the House since September 2016.
  1. President Obama was left with no alternatives but to create a monument: In late December, after the end of the last Congress, President Obama exercised his authority under the Antiquities act to protect against the imminent threats in the area.

Tell Congressman Bishop you support the monument, and you’re glad the President was willing to lead where he failed to act.


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