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Congressman Scott Tipton

Representing the 3rd District of Colorado

Tipton Blasts President’s Unilateral Land Grab in New Mexico

May 21, 2014
Press Release

Raises concerns that Colorado could be next

WASHINGTON— Congressman Scott Tipton (R-CO), today, issued the following statement on President Obama’s use of the Antiquities Act to unilaterally designate a massive 500,000 acre national monument in New Mexico despite local objections.

“The President has once more shown a complete disregard for the will of the American people, ignoring their voices and concerns by locking away a half million acres of land in New Mexico. Local citizens and elected officials raised serious concerns over the detrimental economic impact the massive land grab would have on their communities including their ability to sustain and create jobs under the designation, as well as concerns over increased security risks along the U.S.- Mexico border in an area that has seen criminal and drug smuggling activity in the past.

“Perhaps what makes this unilateral action most troubling is that the impacted area in New Mexico signifies what could be just the initial phase to implement an internal Department of the Interior document from 2009, titled Treasured Landscapes. This document includes information that the Administration may take unilateral action to lock-away over 13 million acres in Western States—including the Vermillion Basin in Colorado.

“I am a firm believer that public lands designations should be driven by the local communities most affected through a bottom-up process. When the President designates a monument under the Antiquities Act without local support he is acting unilaterally without those most affected even having the ability to comment on the designation. This is wrong, and speaks to the urgent need to update the Antiquities Act and give the American people a voice in this process. The original intent of the Antiquities Act was to provide protections for at-risk lands facing an immediate threat. However, the lands the President is now targeting overwhelmingly have some form of protection already, and the American people should have a say in the process.

“We passed legislation in the House in March to ensure that all national monument designations receive public input. In addition to pushing the Senate to take action on this bill, I will continue to work with my Western colleagues to stop the President’s massive land grabs and protect Westerners’ abilities to earn a living and access their land.”

The Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act (H.R. 1459), which passed the House with bipartisan support on March 26, 2014, requires the application of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) whenever the President uses the Antiquities Act to unilaterally establish a national monument over 5,000 acres. This would ensure public participation in the monument designation process. Read more HERE.

Background on the Treasured Landscapes Document courtesy of the House Natural Resources Committee:

In 2009, an internal document from the Department of the Interior (DOI) revealed the Obama Administration’s plans to potentially designate new national monuments under the Antiquities Act. The proposed designations would lock-up millions of acres of public lands in the West, without Congressional approval or public input, and restrict access for energy production, recreation, and other job-creating economic activities. The Committee continues to seek increased transparency on the Administration’s actions and will oppose efforts to unilaterally lock-up more public land.

  • The proposed designations and acquisitions would lock-up at least 13 million acres of land in 11 Western states, cost hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and be done without Congressional approval.
  • It would also have huge ramifications on our nation’s energy, restricting access to immense oil, gas, and mineral deposits, as well as blocking pipelines and transmission corridors.
  • Natural Resources Committee Republicans have repeatedly asked the Department of Interior to turn over information related to this draft document. Secretary Salazar publicly said that there is “no secret agenda” and wants to have a “public dialogue.” Therefore, the Department should be willing to answer questions regarding the exact undertakings and status of the potential Monument designations, as well as what outside groups and individuals have been involved in the secret planning.
  • After Republicans introduced legislation (H. Res. 1406) directing the Secretary of the Interior to transmit to the House of Representatives certain information relating to the Secretary’s Treasured Landscape Initiative, potential designation of National Monuments, and High Priority Land-Rationalization Efforts, the Interior Department released all 25 pages of the draft memo. However, they continue to purposely withhold 2,016 pages of related documents.

Read more HERE.