WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, issued the following statement after President Trump’s unprecedented announcement that he will shrink two existing national monuments in Utah – Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Bears Ears, established under the Antiquities Act by President Obama, is not only majestic, but also contains 100,000 sites of significant cultural importance to five Native American tribes, including grave sites, ceremonial grounds and ancient cliff dwellings. President Trump’s decision to strip protections from these monuments is the largest elimination of protected area designation in U.S. history.
“For more than a century, the Antiquities Act has successfully protected the most treasured spaces across our country that tell the incredible, unique story of America. The Antiquities Act helped to establish Delaware’s First State National Park, which has preserved the historic sites where our Founding Fathers fought for independence, ratified our Constitution and began to build this nation. The Antiquities Act ensured that future generations could visit the Statue of Liberty, see Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad firsthand and experience California’s giant sequoias. These monuments inspire awe and showcase our heritage, which is why protecting them, as so many past presidents have recognized, is not only the right thing to do, but also makes good environmental and economic sense.
“President Trump’s decision to shrink existing national monuments flies in the face of that tradition dating back to President Teddy Roosevelt. President Trump’s announcement today will open up over 2 million acres of cherished, public spaces and cultural sites to those who want to develop the land for financial gain. What’s more, he is choosing to do so after the public submitted more than 2.8 million comments on Secretary Zinke’s proposal – with more than 98 percent of those comments urging the Interior Department to keep existing protections in place.
“The classic Woody Guthrie song reminds us that ‘This land was made for you and me’ – not the highest bidder. Protecting these lands for the enjoyment and education of future generations was truly one of our country’s best ideas, and President Trump’s short-sighted decision threatens that bipartisan legacy. I will keep fighting to ensure that all Americans are able to enjoy these spectacular landmarks like we have for over a century.”