Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) joined Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and 17 Democratic senators in introducing legislation to enhance protections for national monuments against the Trump administration’s unprecedented attacks on public lands. The America’s Natural Treasures of Immeasurable Quality Unite, Inspire, and Together Improve the Economies of States (ANTIQUITIES) Act of 2018 reinforces Congress’ intent in the Antiquities Act of 1906: only Congress has the authority to modify a national monument designation.
“No president in history has called into question the legal validity of any national monument protected under the Antiquities Act until President Trump,” said Cortez Masto. “His unwelcome interference with the protection of our public lands shows blatant disregard for our natural history and ignorance to the economic benefits that national monuments bring to states like Nevada. I am proud to cosponsor a bill that protects presidential proclamations made under the Antiquities Act so that no one can jeopardize decades’ worth of conservation efforts.”
S. 2354, the ANTIQUITIES Act of 2018, protects and enhances national monuments in three main provisions:
- It officially declares Congress’ support for the 51 national monuments established by presidents in both parties between January 1996 and April 2017 under their authority established by the Antiquities Act of 1906.
- It reinforces that existing law clearly states that presidential proclamations designating national monuments are valid and cannot be reduced or diminished, except by an act of Congress.
- It further enhances protections for the presidentially designated national monuments by 1) requiring that they be surveyed, mapped and that management plans be completed in two years—in the same manner as congressionally designated national monuments—and 2) that they receive additional resources to ensure that they will continue to meet their full potential of providing unmatched economic, recreational, and cultural benefits to their states and to the nation.
The ANTIQUITIES Act comes in response to President Trump’s announcement that he will eliminate 2 million acres of protections for Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments — the largest rollback of federally protected lands in American history. Trump took this action despite the fact that Americans across the country overwhelmingly voiced support for keeping the monuments intact. During the administration’s public comment process, over 99 percent of the 2.8 million comments received were in favor of maintaining existing protections for our national monuments.
National monuments and America’s protected public lands help fuel an $887 billion outdoor recreation industry, which sustains 7.6 million jobs and creates $65.3 billion in federal tax revenue and $59.2 billion in local and state tax revenue.
In addition to Cortez Masto and Udall, the ANTIQUITIES Act is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).