Energy & Environment

Top Natural Resources Republican asks Haaland for details on national monuments

Rep. Bruce Westerman (Ark.), the top Republican on the House Natural Resources Committee, requested further information Monday from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland on the department’s review of the boundaries and protections of national monuments.

The Trump administration reduced the boundaries of two Utah sites, Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante.

Biden in January ordered a review of the boundaries with a report of its findings issued within 60 days. However, the department has since announced it will publish the report after Haaland completes a visit to the monuments in April, after the 60-day window.

“While the planned visit to Utah, as well as reports of DOI [Department of the Interior] aides meeting with stakeholders, are encouraging steps, many matters remain unclear. For example, there is uncertainty whether DOI plans to initiate a formal, public comment period and how local support for the Trump administration’s decision will factor into future analysis,” Westerman wrote.

“Additionally, given the lack of direction provided by [the executive order], it is unknown how you will conduct your evaluation, whether you will follow the same analysis as then-Secretary [Ryan] Zinke, and whether you will comply with the Antiquities Act of 1906.”

Westerman’s letter praised the delay of what he calls the executive order’s “arbitrary deadline.” However, he called for further details, including the official date at which the recommendations will be submitted and documentation of the current progress.

The Arkansas Republican also requested further information on the evaluation criteria for the national monuments and the department’s plans, if any, for a formal public comment period.

Westerman further asked whether the Interior Department has any plans to visit the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Marine Monument off the coast of New England, from which the Trump administration stripped commercial fishing restrictions. This monument is also covered by the Biden executive order.

A spokesperson for the Interior Department declined to comment to The Hill

Tags Bears Ears National Monument Bruce Westerman Deb Haaland

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