Public Comments on the Review of National Monuments
We recently submitted comments to the Department of the Interior on their review of certain national monuments established since 1996. The review process was initiated by Executive Order 13792, which directs the Secretary of the Interior to review all national monuments designated or expanded after January 1, 1996, that either include more than 100,000 acres of public lands or for which the Secretary determines inadequate “public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders” occurred.
Our comments make two main points. First, the President and the Secretary of the Interior do not have the authority to revoke, reduce the size of, or otherwise diminish existing national monuments, which were designated for the benefit of present and future generations. Second, the Executive Order and statements made by the President and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke strongly imply that national monuments may have a detrimental effect on local communities near those monuments. In fact, several studies show the opposite to be true: national monuments are correlated with a significant boost in per capita income, job growth, and other tangible benefits to nearby communities. Moreover, national monuments deliver long-term benefits, as opposed to the “boom-and-bust” cycles historically associated with fossil fuel development. While delivery of economic benefits is not required for any national monument designation, these studies show that the rhetoric accompanying this administration’s national monument review is misleading or misinformed.