Energy & Environment

Administration confirms it will restore national monuments to pre-Trump boundaries

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Grand Staircase-Escalante

The Biden administration confirmed Thursday evening that it will restore the borders of three national monuments that were shrunk under the Trump administration.

In a fact sheet, the White House said it will restore protections for the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, which saw their boundaries curtailed under former President Trump. The administration will also prohibit commercial fishing in the Northeast Canyon and Seamounts Marine National Monument, with red crab and lobster fishing phased out by September 2023.

The Bears Ears National Monument, which saw its acreage reduced about 85 percent in 2017, will also have additional rangers assigned by the Bureau of Land Management, the White House said. The restoration will expand the protected section of Bears Ears to 1.36 million acres and Grand Staircase Escalante to 1.87 million acres.

“By restoring these national monuments, which were significantly cut back during the previous administration, President Biden is fulfilling a key promise and upholding the longstanding principle that America’s national parks, monuments, and other protected areas are to be protected for all time and for all people,” a White House spokesperson said.

The fact sheet also touts other environmental actions by the administration, including ending oil and gas leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The White House initially imposed a pause on all new leasing on federal lands, but earlier this year a federal judge imposed an injunction on the order. The White House has resumed lease sales while it appeals the ruling.

Biden in January ordered a review of the reduced monument boundaries. Interior Secretary Deb Haaland delivered her findings to the president over the summer, recommending full restoration, according to a copy of the report seen by The Washington Post.

Thursday’s announcement was first reported by the Salt Lake Tribune. The initial reports did not address whether the administration would take action on Northeast Canyon and Seamounts.

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R), who said his office had been informed by Haaland of the move, criticized the decision.

In a joint statement, Cox and other state leaders said the decision “fails to provide certainty as well as the funding for law enforcement, research, and other protections which the monuments need and which only Congressional action can offer.”

Tags Deb Haaland Donald Trump Joe Biden

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