President Donald Trump made it a rallying cry to go anti-government and anti-fed. He promised to be against those things during his campaign and he has, since then and time and time again, evoked the Swamp as the Big Bad Wolf of the United States.
Unfortunately, the national monument controversy seems to be playing right into the Swamp’s hands.
Under the Antiquities Act of 1906, signed into law by Theodore Roosevelt, the president has the authority “to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the Government of the United States to be national monuments.”
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke believes that it is time to reduce up to ten monuments, including Bears Ears (designated as a national monument in 2016) and Grand Staircase-Escalante (designated in 1996) in Utah, as well as Rio Grande Del Norte (designated in 2013) in New Mexico.
The reasoning from Zinke — that less federal land means less federal government — is flawed.
Quite the opposite is true.
Reducing federal land in this case would make corporations slobber over their new found pickings. These lands would be at the mercy of extraction companies running amok.
Ronald Reagan, the Westerner, understood that conservatism also meant to conserve — our natural resources, our cherished lands, our natural treasures.
It is a myth to believe Reagan was a corporatist. In fact, he never trusted corporations and said so often, warning in 1975 that big corporations possessing too much power over the federal government. His warning still echoes loudly today. On signing the report of the Council on Environmental Quality in 1984, he said: “If we’ve learned any lessons during the past few decades, perhaps the most important is that preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense. Our physical health, our social happiness, and our economic well-being will be sustained only by all of us working in partnership as thoughtful, effective stewards of our natural resources.”
Reagan often quoted Robert Service, a big man and a Western poet, who often wrote about the beauty of the West.
Among both Democrats and Republicans, there is overwhelming support with keeping the national monuments. In fact, 90 percent of voters believe that more monuments are necessary, not less! To reduce them would be to reduce revenue to the states and reduce jobs by a significant amount. In Nevada alone, national monuments are responsible for over 14 billion dollars in revenue and nearly 150,000 jobs.
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