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Trump Admin Finalizes ‘Atrocious’ Plans to Allow Drilling and Mining on Gutted National Monuments

Trump Admin Finalizes ‘Atrocious’ Plans to Allow Drilling and Mining on Gutted National Monuments

“These plans are atrocious, and entirely predictable,” Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Senior Director for Lands Sharon Buccino said in a statement emailed to EcoWatch. “They are the latest in a series of insults to these magnificent lands by the Trump administration that began when Trump illegally dismantled Bears Ears and Grand Staircase at the behest of corporate interests two years ago.”

“It’s the height of arrogance for Trump to rush through final decisions on what’s left of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante while we’re fighting his illegal evisceration of these national monuments in court,” Center for Biological Diversity Public Lands Director Randi Spivak in a statement reported by The Guardian. “Trump is eroding vital protections for these spectacular landscapes. We won’t rest until all of these public lands are safeguarded for future generations.”

The administration, meanwhile, presented its actions as a boon to the Utah economy against the overreach of past administrations. Former President Bill Clinton designated Grand Staircase-Escalante as a national monument in 1996, while Barack Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument in 2016.

“The approved plans keep the commitment of this Administration to the families and communities of Utah that know and love this land the best and will care for these resources for many generations to come,” Interior’s Acting Assistant Secretary of Land and Minerals Management Casey Hammond said in the government announcement. “These cooperatively developed and locally driven plans restore a prosperous future to communities too often dismissed and punished by unilateral decisions of those that would not listen to the voices of Utahns.”

However, so far the decision has not generated a lot of interest from industry.

“There has been almost no interest in mining and drilling on the lands excluded from Grand Staircase,” Interior spokeswoman Kimberly Finch told The New York Times.

However, if this changes, the decision to shrink the monuments wouldn’t just contribute to the climate crisis. It would also make it harder to study it.”As a result of its physical isolation and areas of minimal human impact, as well as its enormous ecological diversity, it provides mankind with rare opportunities for unique comparative climate change studies,” Grand Staircase Escalante Partners Executive Director Sarah Bauman told The Guardian of the monument.

“Without protections, these opportunities will be lost and with them our ability to build essential knowledge and resources for mitigating climate change.”

The goosenecks of the San Juan River photographed from Mulley Point. Monument Valley of Bears Ears National Monument seen in Sunrise light. Bob Thomason / The Image Bank / Getty Images

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source:  EcoWatch

By:  Olivia Rosane Feb. 07, 2020 08:47AM EST

LINK:  https://www.ecowatch.com/trump-national-monuments-2645060606.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem

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Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bob Wick / BLM / onEarth

Shrinking Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante: Trump’s Monumental Mistake

By Jeff Turrentine

Well, he told us he would do it. And now he’s actually doing it — or at least trying to. Late last week, President Trump, via the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, announced that he was formalizing his plan to develop lands that once belonged within the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah. The former is a stunningly beautiful, ecologically fragile landscape that has played a crucial role in Native American culture in the Southwest for thousands of years; the latter, just as beautiful, is one of the richest and most important paleontological sites in North America.


The Trump administration would allow drilling, mining, and other highly disruptive forms of development to take place on millions of acres that are of immense and unquestionable scientific, cultural, and religious significance. This significance is what compelled President Bill Clinton to designate Grand Staircase-Escalante a national monument back in 1996, and what led President Barack Obama to bestow the same designation on Bears Ears two decades later.

Normally, when your big plans are tied up in litigation and could come crashing down at any moment with the sweep of a judge’s gavel, you err on the side of prudence and resist the urge to forge ahead. Not this president. In a phone call with reporters last week, Casey Hammond, the Interior Department’s acting assistant secretary for land and minerals management, revealed the thinking behind his boss’s decision. “If we stopped and waited for every piece of litigation to be resolved,” he said, “we would never be able to do much of anything around here.”

Talk about saying the quiet part out loud. The administration can’t possibly know how the courts will rule, which leaves just one explanation: It doesn’t care how they will rule. Procedural due process may be fine for others, Trump and his Interior Department have concluded, but it’s just not their thing. They’re not going to wait around for some judge to tell them what they can or can’t do.

Can you imagine the Trump administration — or any administration, for that matter — redrawing, by executive fiat, the boundaries of Arlington National Cemetery or the Lincoln Memorial to accommodate the desires of drilling, mining, and other extractive industries? It’s unthinkable. And yet this administration exhibits no compunction about grievously assaulting the lands, culture, and religious practices of Native Americans. “When the monument was reduced, it made us think, again, we have given so much to this nation and we are receiving so little in return,” Enote told National Geographic magazine.

Trump’s plan’s also, like so many of his other gambits, legally unsound. If President Trump believes that recklessly moving forward on this act of administrative vandalism is going to somehow intimidate the courts or the coalition that has risen up in defense of Bears Ears and Grand-Staircase Escalante, he’s in for a surprise.

Jeff Turrentine is the Culture & Politics columnist at NRDC’s onEarth. A former reporter for The Washington Post, he has also written for Slate, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times.

Reposted with permission from onEarth.

LINK:  https://www.ecowatch.com/shrinking-bears-ears-grand-staircase-escalante-2645172719.html?rebelltitem=1#rebelltitem1

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