House Republicans Declare Full-Scale War on the Antiquities Act

The House Natural Resources Committee has advanced H.R. 3990, a disgraceful bill that would essentially gut the Antiquities Act. The full committee mark-up also effectively killed a Democratic request for more transparency in Zinke’s monument review process.

H.R. 3990, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), would so severely limit a president’s power to designate new monuments that had it been in the original language of the law, Utah would not have four of its five national parks and seven of its eight national monuments today—places like Arches, Zion, Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears. It would limit the size of new monuments to 85,000 acres and require approval from local and state lawmakers and governors. A president would still be able to designate a monument in an emergency situation, but the designation would expire within a year without congressional action.

Monument sign at Cottonnwood Road, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Copyright Jeff Foott

Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), lead sponsor of the House version of the Red Rock bill, called HR 3990 a “blatant attempt to dismantle the Antiquities Act.” He spoke of the direct threat this bill poses to Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and to all of Utah’s red rock country: “The stunning red rock canyons, protected by the Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments . . . all of these natural features would be threatened by this bill.”

Bears Ears National Monument. Copyright Judith Zimmerman

Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) noted: “There is something good about this bill, and that is that it points out that the president has no authority to unilaterally shrink or undesignate a national monument under current law. This admission is useful because the president may soon try to invoke that nonexistent power to the lasting detriment of our country.”

The bill passed out of committee on party lines, 23-17.

The champions standing up for the Antiquites Act and our public lands who voted against this terrible bill were:
Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ), Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-CA), Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-Guam), Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA), Rep. Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-CNMI), Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA), Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Rep. Donald Beyer (D-VA), Rep. Norma Torres (D-CA), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-CA), Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL), Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD), Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-MO), and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA)

If your member of Congress is listed above, please call them and thank them at 202-224-3121

Conversely, the members of Congress who voted to gut the Antiquities Act are:
Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT), Rep. Don Young (R-AK), Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA), Rep. Steve Pearce (R-NM), Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), Rep Scott Tipton (R-CO), Rep Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA), Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA), Rep. Amata Radewagen (R-AS), Rep. Darin LaHood (R- IL), Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), Rep. Jack Bergman (R-MI), Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA), Rep. Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR), and Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT)

If your member of Congress is listed above, please call them and register your disappointment at 202-224-3121.

After the vote on HR 3990, H. Res. 555 was submitted to the mark up. H. Res. 555, introduced by Rep. Grijalva (D-AZ) and 25 other House Democrats, was an attempt to force a formal disclosure of Secretary Zinke’s monument review and gain transparency on the process of its creation. This resolution of inquiry, introduced a week ago, is likely what prompted the Antiquities Act overhaul to be unveiled.

The resolution was passed out of committee, but was reported “unfavorably,” effectively killing the measure.

This bill is a disaster, but just because it passed out of the committee doesn’t mean it will become law. To help us make sure it doesn’t, please call your representatives and let them know you oppose H.R. 3990 and any similar effort to gut the Antiquities Act! 202-224-3121