Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, has introduced The National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act, a bill designed to reform the Antiquities Act by restraining unilateral presidential restrictions on federal lands.
The bill requires approval by Congress and the legislature of any state with a proposed national monument before the President can formally designate the monument. The legislation also requires Congressional approval and public input before restricting access to public lands in the proposed monument.
In 1906, Congress passed the Antiquities Act out of concern about theft from archeological sites. Since then, 16 presidents have designated 139 monuments that include over 500 million acres of land and marine habitat, often without support from local communities, user groups and Congress.
“Presidents in both parties have overstepped the original intent of the law,” Labrador said. “In Idaho, the current threat of a presidential designation of a Boulder-White Clouds National Monument has distorted the debate on how to manage those lands. It’s high time that Congress move to restore the balance between the branches.
“It’s also vital that local communities, user groups and state elected officials have a chance to be heard in an open legislative process. Vast landscapes shouldn’t suddenly become off limits at the stroke of a presidential pen.”
The legislation is the House companion to U.S. Senator Mike Crapo’s S.228 introduced in the Senate. The reforms would require Congress to approve new national monuments after states do so. Absent approval, presidents would be barred from designating new monuments. Any future monuments also would have to comply with federal environmental laws.