Presidential authority to declare new federal monuments on public land will be restricted under legislation introduced this week by Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch. The National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act (S.3660) calls for congressional approval within two years of any executive order by a president seeking a monument designation. If the two-year deadline passes without congressional approval, the land would return to its original status.
The legislation also requires that the president provide congress with information about the actions 30 days prior to any executive order designation. It calls for public hearings and sets land restrictions for the monument designation.
"This kind of top-down directive is anything but collaborative," Crapo said. "For too long, presidents have had the ability to sneak monument designations into law without any congressional oversight, review or approval. The most recent example came up when the Department of Interior engaged in discussions about acquiring 140,000 acres of private lands in the Pioneer Mountains."
"This legislation brings transparency to the monuments process. It is imperative that the state and communities where a monument could be located have a voice in the designation, and that Congress play a role in the process as well," said Risch.
Original senate sponsors include Crapo, Risch, and Sens. John Barrasso (Wyo.), John Ensign (Nev.), Michael Enzi (Wyo.), Orrin Hatch (Utah), Lisa Murkowski (Ala.) and Pat Roberts (Kan.).
The authority to make executive decisions on national monuments was granted in the Antiquities Act of 1906. It has been used more than 100 times since its passage and frequently creates significant controversy at the local level where land changes designation.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) thanks the senators for their leadership in introducing the act since sheep ranchers not only produce food and fiber to feed and clothe the nation and the world but they also serve as stewards of our nation's public lands and are important contributors to rural communities.
Rep. Nunes (Calif.) introduced similar legislation (H.R.5580) in the House of Representatives last month. ASI was joined by 15 western livestock organizations in thanking Nunes for his leadership in introducing the bill and continues to encourage constituents to contact their representatives to offer their support of this legislation.