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Utah leaders decry monument designation


“I am more than disappointed by President Obama’s decision today to designate a Bears Ears National Monument in southeastern Utah. I am deeply disturbed by what has resulted from a troubling process. By unilaterally locking up 1.35 million acres — an area roughly the size of the entire state of Delaware — the president has misused his authority under the Antiquities Act and violated assurances made by his Interior secretary to take into account local concerns before making a monument designation. … President Obama has shown little regard for the input of every elected official in Utah who represents this area.”

— Gov. Gary Herbert

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"The president’s proposal, like so many others, goes well beyond the original authorities of the Antiquities Act, which was intended to give presidents only limited power to designate special landmarks, such as a unique natural arch or the site of old cliff dwellings, in anticipation of broad support from Congress. The president was never meant to set aside millions of acres against the express wishes of local communities and their elected representatives. To illustrate just how extensively the Antiquities Act has been abused, the president’s newest proposal includes more land than the total acreage of the first 25 presidentially proclaimed national monuments combined — including the Grand Canyon."

— Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah

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“This arrogant act by a lame-duck president will not stand. I will work tirelessly with Congress and the incoming Trump administration to honor the will of the people of Utah and undo this designation.”

— Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah

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“President Obama’s unilateral decision to invoke the Antiquities Act in Utah politicizes a long-simmering conflict. This unfortunate act threatens to further inflame controversies that were near resolution. The midnight monument is a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes. … It does not have the support of the governor, a single member of the state’s congressional delegation, nor any local elected officials or state legislators who represent the area."

— Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah

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"The creation of the Bears Ears National Monument marks the second time in the recent past that a president has used the Antiquities Act to lock up millions of acres of land in Utah without daring to set foot in the state. I am disgusted by the process and will fight this monument with every tool at my disposal, including through the appropriations process."

— Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah

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"By unilaterally designating the Bears Ears area of San Juan County a national monument, President Obama has undermined the economy and lifestyle of the people who live there, the religious interests of the Native Americans who reside in San Juan County, and ignored local authority. Again behaving more like a dictator instead of a representative of people, he ignored Utah, which is united in opposition to this action."

— Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah

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"The announcement perpetuates two egregious lies. The first being that the size of the monument parallels the Public Lands Initiative. That is not true. The administration is grasping at arguments to justify a lame-duck administration’s efforts to do things contrary to the will of the people who live in San Juan County. The second lie is in the creation of a faux commission to give management authority to Native Americans. This is a diversion. The Utah delegation wants to give management authority to Native Americans; the administration can’t. Only Congress can legally do so. This administration over-promised, failed to deliver, and is now trying to hide its ineptitude.”

— Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah

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“Adding to a long list of executive actions that threaten the sovereignty of the states and the citizens of this nation to chart their own course, our president has chosen to once again subvert the will of the people. Earlier this month, nearly all elected officials who represent the area, from local to federal, assembled at the Utah State Capitol to plead with President Obama to resist the temptation to grant these types of political favors. This action betrays the interests of Utahns, stands in the way of better stewardship of the land we all love and cherish, and ultimately amounts to a blatant federal land grab."

— Greg Hughes, Utah House speaker

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“Today San Juan County mourns after President Barack Obama gave into pressure from extreme environmental groups, out-of-state tribal leaders, and corporate interests by designating the 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument.

— Phil Lyman, Bruce Adams and Rebecca Benally, San Juan County commissioners

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"The sacred tribal areas in and around Bears Ears should absolutely be protected but in a way that is legally sound and that makes sense. A national monument in San Juan County does not preserve the land but divests it from the very people for whom it is sacred. The local Navajo will no longer be able to gather medicine or firewood, graze cattle, hunt, maintain their livelihoods or access the mountain heights for their religious ceremonies."

— Sean Reyes, Utah attorney general

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“Today we stand with the people of San Juan County and condemn President Obama’s ‘midnight monument’ designation in southern Utah. Despite the recent election that was a clear referendum on his misuse of power, this president continues to arrogantly abuse the executive authority. With a stroke of his pen in Washington D.C., President Obama ignored the voices of the people of San Juan County and every elected official chosen to represent the Bears Ears area.”

— Utah Senate majority leadership

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“Like the unilateral tyranny exercised by the king of England against the American colonies 2 ½ centuries ago, our president has exercised an unconstitutional unilateral exercise of the executive power to establish a monument greater in size than a number of the original 13 states. Our children are the biggest losers, and our federal executive branch is well-aware that this designation goes against the voice of the American citizens living within the boarders of the state of Utah and an overwhelming supermajority of those elected to represent them."

— Utah Legislature's Commission for the Stewardship of Public Lands

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"The fact that the president is designating the Bears Ears National Monument at 6 p.m. Eastern on the Wednesday of Christmas vacation — and from 3,000 miles away in Hawaii no less — shows complete disrespect for the people of San Juan County. The citizens of this nation make monuments to honor true statesmen. President Obama declaring a monument unto himself with the stroke of a pen is not only unstatesmanlike, it is undemocratic. The people of America should expect more, and the people of San Juan County deserve better.”

— Boyd Matheson, Sutherland Institute president