The Trump administration's new and smaller boundaries for Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments may not generate many immediate requests from energy companies to mine or drill on the 2 million acres of land, said the Associated Press. The Interior Department declined to say how many claims have been filed but a trade group said low uranium prices would "discourage any investment in new claims'" in the Bears Ears territory of Utah.
President Trump signed two proclamations at the Utah state Capitol, cutting the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments to less than 40 percent of their original size and opening 2 million acres (3,125 square miles) to "hunting, grazing and responsible economic development." Tribes and environmental groups said they would go to court to block what a think tank called "the largest elimination of protected areas in U.S. history."
Days after President Trump cut 2 million acres from a pair of national monuments in Utah, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended reductions of two additional monuments, Gold Butte and Cascade-Siskiyou, to allow “traditional use” of federal land.
Two Democratic senators questioned if President Trump has the authority to slash two national monuments in Utah to 40 percent of their current size, and said the USDA did not recommend removing national forest land from them. Trump is expected to announce the new boundaries for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante monuments today during a visit to Salt Lake City.
When President Trump visits Utah in December, he will announce reductions in the size of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, "a move that is likely to spur an instant court battle," said the Salt Lake Tribune. Trump told Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, "I'm approving the Bears Ears recommendation for you ... " according to the senator's office.
Rep. Rob Bishop from Utah has worked up a bill to limit new national monuments to 640 acres, with any designations larger than that requiring environmental impact statements and potentially approval from relevant state and county officials, says Deseret News. The bill is slated to come before the House Committee on Natural Resources, which Bishop chairs.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke recommended the White House reduce the size of four national monuments in the West, and change the management of those lands and six other monuments to allow "traditional uses," such as grazing, logging, mining and commercial fishing, according to a leaked memo. Conservation and environmental groups denounced Zinke for ceding the future of invaluable federal lands to, as the Sierra Club said, "the goodwill of polluting industries."
As part his review of two dozen national monuments, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke says he will recommend no change in 378,000-acre Upper Missouri River Breaks monument in central Montana. Zinke is under orders from President Trump to report by Labor Day whether the government should scale back the boundaries of national monuments designated since 1995 and covering more than 100,000 acres; Bears Ears in southeastern Utah was singled out for special attention by Trump.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, in New England as part of his ongoing review of national monuments, told Reuters that the United States can become a “dominant” energy force by boosting mining and drilling on federal lands.