It's nice to feel generous, benevolent and caring - especially with somebody else's money. That is exactly what President Clinton is doing when he arbitrarily deals away large mineral assets without consulting Congress.

Environmental protection through due process is one thing, but locking up lands in perpetuity without regard to input from the collective owners of mineral rights on those lands - the taxpayers - is another.Such methodology was employed by Clinton when creating the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Now he appears poised to use the same heavy-handed tactics elsewhere.

He should think twice before doing so.

Word is out that the administration is working to acquire the New World Mine near Yellowstone National Park and the Headwaters redwood grove in California. Clinton had announced he would seek such deals to protect the environment during last fall's presidential campaign. But apparently negotiations to do so are speeding along without congressional input.

That is wrong.

The way Clinton and his land-locking partner, Vice President Al Gore, blitzed through the monument-creation process in Utah was offensive. While the merits of the monument are arguable, the methodology employed to create it was second-rate and violated democratic principles.

Nobody in Utah's congressional delegation was brought into the loop; nor was anyone on the state or local governmental levels. Adding insult to injury, the president had the audacity to announce the heist from neighboring Arizona.

Now it appears such blitzkrieg tactics are being employed elsewhere. As in southern Utah, hundreds of millions of dollars worth of oil, gas and other mineral rights are at stake.

It is essential that Congress give approval of such deals before they are consummated. Input from state and local leaders immediately affected would be desirable as well. Moves to protect land for environmental purposes should be deliberate, open and involve adequate input to consider and protect everyone's interests.

That's the American way, which Clinton seems to have forgotten in these instances.