House to vote on bill to curb protected area designations

The House will vote next week on a bill that would restrict President Obama’s ability to protect areas as national monuments.

Republicans see the bill as a way to rein in the president’s power to act independently of Congress.

The Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act would limit the president to designating one national monument per state in each four-year presidential term. It would require environmental reviews and public input for all national monument designations and prevent the monuments from including private lands whose owners do not consent.

National monuments are allowed under the 1906 Antiquities Act as a quick way to protect from development land that is valuable to the country. Unlike a national park, the designation requires no input from Congress.

“Unfortunately, presidents of both parties have used the Antiquities Act inappropriately and this current president instills no sense of trust when it comes to the use of his pen and phone,” House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said in a Friday memo to House Republicans. “This bill is vitally important and a priority for members from the western states and I thank all of them for their leadership.”

The House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill, sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), in July.

The full House vote will come weeks after Obama added California’s Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands to the California Coastal National Monument.

“The president’s use of the Antiquities Act to expand the Coastal California National Monument is disappointing to say the least,” Bishop said in an early March statement. “It is also purely political and undermines sincere efforts to reach consensus on questions of conservation.”

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