The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management just released draft resource management plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, which includes a report that highlights the development potential for coal, oil, gas, uranium and other materials in the areas taken out of Grand Staircase. The draft plans will be open for public comment for 90 days.
On December 4, 2017, President Trump issued an executive order based on the recommendation of Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke that drastically reduced the size of these two Utah national monuments — the largest elimination of public lands in American history. The Antiquities Act only authorizes the president to reduce designated national monuments through an act of Congress, which President Trump failed to obtain.
Statement from Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger:
“After this administration illegally rolled back protections on the largest acreage of public land in U.S. history, moving forward with business-as-usual is a charade. The Bureau of Land Management should not be proceeding with the Resource Management Plans for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments.
We know that both these monument reductions were made at the behest of the same special interests and extractive corporations that brought the Trump administration into office. The administration should wait for legal challenges to the reductions to have their day in court before Secretary Zinke tries to open up stolen land to corporate land barons and sell off our protected lands to the highest bidder.”
Previous analysis of public documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times found that oil was central in the decision to shrink Bears Ears, despite Secretary Zinke’s repeated claims that it was not.
Previous Western Values Project analysis has documented the areas taken out of the national monuments that are rich in oil, gas and uranium reserves.
Ironically, San Juan County Utah, where Bears Ears National National Monument is located, recently launched a rebranding campaign titled ‘Make it Monumental’ to make it more attractive to visitors, following its elected officials’ aggressive push to eliminate Bears Ears.