Target: Mary Landrieu, Chair of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources
Goal: Kill the “No New National Monuments” bill, which threatens the conservation of historical sites
The Antiquities Act is a popular law signed into being by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, giving presidents the ability to declare national monuments in order to protect culturally significant public lands or structures that may be in harm’s way. It has been used by presidents of both parties to conserve places of historical importance or great natural beauty over 100 times since its inception. The law has remained intact for over 100 years, and has been repeatedly upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Yet, despite its legacy and popularity, the Antiquities Act is now under attack.
A new bill aims to restrict use of the Antiquities Act by capping the number of executive declarations to one per presidential term, by requiring congressional review of proposed monuments, and by subjecting each proclamation to a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) review—a process that takes an average of six years. During that waiting period, the area that is under consideration for protection would still be subject to development, exploitation, or sale. This essentially defeats the purpose of the Antiquities Act, holding federal protections hostage to the changing whims of congress and, in ThinkProgress’ words, “…forcing local communities to engage in an ironic exercise of reviewing the environmental impacts of protecting lands for future generations.”
This bill, nicknamed the “No New National Monuments Bill,” has already been approved by the House and is currently under review by the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Several recent surveys have found that a vast majority of Americans hold a very favorable view of national monuments and are in favor of strengthening protections for public lands and sites. Some of our most beloved and popular monuments, including the Grand canyon, the Statue of Liberty, and Arches National Park, are products of the Antiquities Act. Sign this petition to tell Congress that our monuments are our heritage, and should not be subject to partisan bickering.
Dear Ms. Landrieu,
The Antiquities Act has been preserving and protecting our shared American heritage since before any of us were born. All Americans benefit from the preservation of sites of historical and natural significance, and many monuments are also important sources of economic activity to the communities near them.
The “No New Monuments” proposal would completely nullify the Antiquities Act, making it much more difficult to permanently protect federal land. Please do not allow this ill-conceived bill to end a century of successful conservation work.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Flicka via Wikimedia Commons