Utah’s Senators have introduced legislation that would excuse the state from future designations through the Antiquities Act.
Senator Mike Lee re-introduced the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy (PURE) Act on Thursday afternoon. Senator Lee said the PURE Act would “give Utah’s rural communities a real voice in local land management policies, a voice they currently do not have today.” Lee explained the act would prevent the president from establishing or expanding a national monument in Utah unless the proposed monument has been authorized by an act of Congress and Utah’s state legislature. The statement from Senator Lee noted that both Alaska and Wyoming are currently excluded from future Antiquities Act designations.
Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance’s executive director Scott Groene gave his thoughts on the Utah Senator’s decision to reintroduce the PURE act.
"Well this bill is just the latest in a long line of extremist anti-conservation bills put forth by some members of the Utah delegation. I think you could expect this short-sightedness from Senator Lee but it’s extremely disappointing to see one of Senator Romney’s first acts in congress being such an un-considered parroting of worn-out anti-environmental talking points.”
In a statement Senator Romney said “The PURE Act returns the decision-making and management power of our public lands to those closest to the land. I’m proud to sponsor legislation that puts an end to excessive landgrabs and provides rural Utahns a voice in land management.”
Ashley Soltysiak is the Chapter Director for the Utah Sierra Club she also voiced her displeasure with the act.
“We think it’s a completely baseless undermining of the Antiquities Act which has protected incredible treasures across the United States and especially here in Utah. So, we see this legislation as undermining rural economies, which is sort of the irony of the title of it Protecting Utah’s Rural Economies. It completely ignores the enormous tourist impact that we’ve seen here in our home state.”
The proposed legislation comes in part in response to President Obama’s 2016 designation of the Bears Ears National Monument. The 1.35-million-acre monument, over 9 times the size of Zion’s National Park, was later reduced in size to 200,000 acres. The Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument were both reduced in size in December 2017 by President Trump. Several lawsuits have since been filed against the Trump administration’s monument reductions. The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance is one several environmental organizations suing the Trump administration.