U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has submitted what he called a “draft” report after reviewing 27 national monuments over four months. He told the Associated Press Thursday he’s not suggesting eliminating any monuments. But he does want to scale back a few that, in his view, go beyond the limits of the law.
The White House, which has begun reviewing Zinke’s recommendations, has given no word yet on how much it might want to shrink two monuments here in Utah.
“It is fair and obvious that they need time to read the report,” said Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, who is also chairman of the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.
Once the administration releases the details, Bishop said, he’ll introduce legislation to revamp the Antiquities Act, the law that created the monuments now under review. He said the law needs to reflect Congress’s original intent.
“The process is broken,” Bishop said in a telephone conference call with reporters. “It is not working as was intended. It needs to be reformed. And this is not about energy development. This is not about it's not about whether we're anti-park.”
Nizhone Meza is the legal and policy director for the Native American group, Utah Dine Bikeyah. It was part of the five-tribe coalition that persuaded the Obama administration to create the Bears Ears National Monument just eight months ago.
She said supporters remain hopeful the Trump administration will preserve the spirit and the 1.35-million-acre boundary of Bears Ears.
“It’s inspiring,” she said of the monument in San Juan County, which includes archaeological treasures, as well as areas that have been sacred to Native Americans for generations. “And I think that we need stay in that mindset, that we should still be positive.”
Environmental groups criticized the Trump administration for refusing to release details of the proposed boundary changes, but neither Bishop nor the White House is saying when that might happen.