Obama Uses Executive Orders For Another Land Grab
President Barack Obama plans to use his pen and phone to designate thousands of acres in three states as national monuments, bringing the total number of national monument designations to 16 under the president.
The move to designate Browns Canyon National Monument in Colorado, Honouliuli National Monument in Hawaii and Pullman National Monument in Chicago comes just weeks after Obama asked Congress to designate all of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge as a “wilderness,” making it off-limits to oil and gas drilling.
Environmentalists have cheered the announcement, saying the order would protect thousands of acres of lands for public enjoyment.
“These proclamations remind us that the spaces commemorating our nation’s heritage come in a rich variety of shapes and sizes,” said Matt Keller, national monuments campaign director with the Wilderness Society. “They include sites where people stood up for their rights for freedom and fair wages, places where thousands experienced the injustices of war, and landscapes that provide habitat for wildlife and heart-stopping adventure on whitewater rivers.”
The GOP has criticized Obama in the past for using executive orders to circumvent Congress on monument designations.
“Oceans, like our federal lands, are intended to be multiple-use and open for a wide range of economic activities that includes fishing, recreation, conservation, and energy production,” said former Washington Republican Rep. Doc Hastings. “It appears this administration will use whatever authorities — real or made-up — to close our ocean and coastal areas with blatant disregard for possible economic consequences.”
As of October 2014, Obama used executive orders to designate 260 million acres of federal lands and waters as part of 13 national monuments, more than any other president since 1906. Obama’s national monument designations are equal to the size of California and Texas combined.
Most is water, granted, but if we are concerned about having things in the future, one cannot rule out the bodies of water. He’s already saying we can’t use those areas if technology makes possible the use of the offshore resources.
Obama’s designations includes the 22,000 acre stretch of land called Browns Canyon, located along the Colorado River. Obama will also be designating Honouliuli camp, the longest and biggest operating internment camp during WWII, and Chicago’s Pullman district where labor and civil rights protests took place.
These designations, however, come after the Obama administration asked Congress to declare all of ANWR a wilderness, putting it off-limits to development, and designating huge swaths of Alaska’s coastline as a critical habitat for Arctic ringed seals.
“This administration is determined to shut down oil and gas production in Alaska’s federal areas – and this offshore plan is yet another example of their short-sighted thinking,” said Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Obama isn’t the first president to use his executive powers to designate national monuments. The Antiquities Act, passed under Teddy Roosevelt, gives presidents this power and has been used under 16 presidents — eight Republicans and eight Democrats.
The three presidents who did not designate national monuments: Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Congress can also designate national monuments, but has only done so 30 times in the past.
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