This news actually came out late Tuesday as I was driving back home from the Gubernatorial Candidate Forum in Lewistown. Nonetheless, I figured I may have seen something in all the states large newspapers. I should have known better, as there has been hardly a mention of this issue which has drawn thousands of Montanans to townhall meetings on the Hi Line.
Congressman Denny Rehberg announced late Tuesday that the US House of Representatives passed a measure that would require Presidential monument designations made through the Antiquities Act to be approved by the impacted state legislature and governor.
Here’s more from a press release issued by the Congressman’s staff:
The legislation comes after secret plans were uncovered to designate 13 million acres in 11 Western States, including 2.5 million acres in Montana.
“When it comes to protecting Montana’s public lands from President Obama’s harmful agenda, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Rehberg. “Win or lose, President Obama will have what he calls ‘greater flexibility’ to pursue his true agenda after the election. Public opposition – and there’s plenty of that in Montana – simply won’t matter to him anymore. That’s why we’ve got to act now to ensure that any new National Monument designations have local support.”
The Antiquities Act authorizes the President to designate objects or areas of historic or scientific interest as National Monuments on lands owned or controlled by the United States. An internal Department of Interior document revealed the Administration is considering using this law to create as many as 14 new National Monument designations in the West.
Specifically, the leaked portion of the memo identified 2.5 million acres of land in Montana to be set aside as a National Monument. The memo also calls for the buy-out of 80,000 acres of private in-holdings within the Missouri Breaks National Monument and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge, in addition to the acquisition of 39,000 acres of state-administered in-holdings in the same area.
The 2012 Presidential election makes this legislation all the more timely. In 2001, Montanans got burned by the Clinton Administration’s designation of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument during his lame duck period. If President Obama were to lose, there is nothing to stop him from making similar designations consistent with the plans we’ve already seen. Even if he wins, he’s already been caught boasting that after the election he’ll have “more flexibly” to pursue his true agenda without the accountability of an election to worry about.
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