President Trump is planning to shrink the controversial Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by approximately half, a staffer for Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLobbying world Congress, stop holding 'Dreamers' hostage Drug prices are declining amid inflation fears MORE (R-Utah) said.
Ron Dean, who leads Hatch’s central and eastern Utah operations, gave the figures to the state legislature’s Commission for the Stewardship of Public Land on Tuesday, saying the monument would be between 700,000 and 1.2 million acres, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Dean also confirmed that the Bears Ears National Monument, the other massive and controversial monument in Utah, is going to be shrunk to between 100,000 and 300,000 acres, from the current 1.35 million acres, according to the newspaper.
Hatch has been an outspoken advocate for significantly reducing both Grand Staircase — created by former President Clinton — and Bears Ears, which was created by former President Obama.
Trump earlier this year tasked Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy & Environment — Biden makes return to pre-Trump national monument boundaries official Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump The Hill's Morning Report - Biden launches blitz for jobs plan with 'thank you, Georgia' MORE with reviewing controversial national monument designations going back two decades. Zinke has not revealed the recommendations, but has said publicly that he is not telling Trump to completely eliminate any monuments.
Dean warned at the Tuesday event that if lawmakers don’t change the Antiquities Act to rein in presidents’ power to create monuments, any victory could be fleeting.
“We are going to get a pingpong effect should the president lose and the wrong kind of occupant of the White House, who has a different view of what public lands in the West are all about, they could restore Grand Staircase and Bears Ears,” Dean said, the newspaper reported.
“There is a substantial fear that, especially in Bears Ears’ case, it would be even be larger than originally called for by President Obama.”
The House Natural Resources Committee has passed legislation to prohibit big new monuments from being created without varying degrees of local input or congressional action. The measure is expected to pass the House, but its future is uncertain in the Senate.