Utah’s congressional delegation isn’t happy with one of President Joe Biden’s first acts as president – ordering the Department of the Interior to review the boundaries and conditions of the Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears National Monument. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
Republican senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney, along with representatives Chris Stewart, John Curtis, Burgess Owens, and Blake Moore, have joined with Utah state officials including Gov. Spencer Cox, Attorney General Sean Reyes, Senate President Stuart Adams, and Speaker of the House Brad Wilson, to issue a statement opposing President Biden’s executive order to have another look at the two southern Utah national monuments.
In 2017, former President Donald Trump shrank Bears Ears National Monument by 85% and the Grand Staircase Escalante monument by about half.
Utah leaders have forwarded their statement to President Biden, reminding him that for more than 25 years, Utah has been the center of controversial and divisive unilateral national monument decisions. Roughly two-thirds of Utah’s backyard, they wrote, belongs to the federal government, which has meant land management actions have often been done to the state, rather than with the state.
A review in name only with predetermined results, which ultimately leads to a unilateral executive order enlarging the monuments’ boundaries, they wrote, will not solve the root of the problem, and will only deepen divisions.
They asked the president to find a collaborative, broadly supported solution to the political football of national monuments in Utah saying it is imperative that the president bring the State of Utah to the table and work with state and local elected leaders toward a consensus product, including a permanent solution approved by Congress.
As President Biden has stressed his message of unity during his campaign and inauguration speeches, Utah leaders say they stand ready to work across party lines toward a permanent solution.