Utah’s attorney general says he is preparing a lawsuit against President Obama for his decision to designate a new national monument in the state.
Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) on Wednesday said the lawsuit is one of numerous ways that he, Gov. Gary Herbert (R) and the state’s congressional delegation will fight the Bears Ears National Monument.
Reyes admitted that previous attempts to sue over national monuments have failed. The courts have upheld presidents’ power to protect federal land as monuments unilaterally.
“My office is working closely with the governor’s office, federal and state legislators, and San Juan County to file a lawsuit challenging this egregious overreach by the Obama administration,” Reyes said in a statement late Wednesday after Obama’s announcement.
“This case is different from other past challenges by states and counties and we are confident in our chances of success,” he continued.
“But the courtroom is not our only option. Our federal delegation is working hard to defund the designation or rescind it altogether. Additionally, we look forward to working with the new presidential administration on ways to curtail or otherwise address the designation.”
All of Utah’s statewide leaders and congressional delegation oppose the Bears Ears monument, saying it unnecessarily restricts land uses like fossil fuel production. They want Congress to enact less restrictive protections for the land.
Obama said in creating the 1.35 million-acre monument that it is necessary to protect sacred American Indian sites, among other assets.
A poll released Thursday morning by news website UtahPolicy.com, but taken before the Wednesday announcement, found that 46 percent of Utahns do not want President-elect Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE to undo the designation, and 40 percent want him to.
Opponents of the designation say that Trump has the power under the Antiquities Act to unilaterally undo Obama’s actions, but the Obama administration says no such power exists.