Target: Lamar Smith, Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Goal: Don’t strip the president of the ability to protect national monuments.
The presidential authority to designate national monuments could soon be a thing of the past if a new bill is allowed to pass. The new bill, introduced by Congressman Don Young, would amend the Antiquities Act, a 1906 act that allows the president to restrict the use of federally owned public land. The restricted use of this land paves the way for a faster route to declaring a national park. Two reductions of power have already been made to the act, limiting the amount of land that can be restricted in Wyoming and Alaska.
Because designating a national park can be a lengthy process, the Antiquities Act allows the president to protect areas of land that might be in danger from immediate threat posed by companies or individuals. The law was created to prevent the theft and destruction of Native American artifacts, as “pot hunters” were removing them from historical sites for private collections. Designating these sites as national monuments protected the artifacts from theft by making their removal a crime.
The environment is a hot-button issue across party lines. While Republicans advocate for oil pipelines and other potentially threatening sources of energy, environmental activists have few options to protect threatened land. The Antiquities Act is a very quick and simple way of designating protected land and saving it from destruction for oil, as well as a variety of other sources of environmental damage.
Amending this act has the potential to prevent the president from designating further national monuments without the lengthy congressional approval process required for a national park. With the current disagreements over climate change and other environmental causes, amending the act could prevent the protection of environmentally significant areas. Ask Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Lamar Smith not to support this bill and allow the president to protect our country’s land from future exploitation.
Dear Chairman Smith,
America’s dedication to preserving its land in national parks and monuments for future generations is one of many reasons we have such a connection with our past. Many of these monuments and parks are thanks to the 1906 Antiquities Act, which allows the president to restrict usage of these lands without the lengthy process of declaring a national park. This act has been used over a hundred times since it was passed, and has saved many important areas from destruction.
A newly introduced bill will amend this act to strip the president’s ability to protect lands as national monuments. There are already restrictions in place on the Antiquities Act that prevent the president from protecting larger areas of land in Wyoming and Alaska. If protecting too much land is a concern, restricting the possible amount of land that can be designated as a monument on a state-by-state basis is a better option than stripping the president of this ability as a whole.
Our future generations deserve to experience our country in its pristine form, and allowing the president to designate these areas as monuments protects them before they can be destroyed in the time it takes to designate a national park. Please use your power as the Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology to stop this bill.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Überraschungsbilder via Wikimedia Commons