‘In President Trump, we have a leader who is committed to defending the Western way of life…’
(Michael Barnes, Liberty Headlines) A Democratic House member is trying to reverse President Donald Trump’s reversal of an abusive Obama administration land grab—while grabbing hundreds of thousands of extra acres in the process.
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., re-introduced legislation last week to overturn the Trump White House’s rollback of a last minute executive order that brought a huge swath of southern Utah under strict federal control.
On Dec. 28, 2016, one month prior to leaving office, President Obama declared 1.5 million acres of southern Utah a national monument, known officially as Bear Ears National Monument, using a 1906 law called the Antiquities Act.
It was the last large seizure of Obama’s incredible 265-million-acre federal land grab over his two terms—or roughly the size of California and Texas combined.
Due in large part to Obama, and President Bill Clinton before him, the federal government now owns 85 percent of Nevada, 52 percent of Oregon, 45 percent of California, 69 percent of Alaska and 57 percent of Utah.
But upon taking office, Trump began dialing back Bears Ears National Monument to the letter of the law, or “the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected.”
As such, the Trump administration kept federal protections in place for vital environmental areas, but returned control of 85 percent of the land back to state and local officials.
That includes giving land use back to Navajo tribal members who opposed Obama’s bureaucratic takeover—many Native American leaders, however, are politically aligned with the Democratic Party.
The federal restrictions were so intrusive that they harmed ranchers’ and tribal members’ ability to graze livestock, forage for herbs and edible plants, and even collect firewood.
“In President Trump, we have a leader who is committed to defending the Western way of life,” said Republican then-Sen. Orrin Hatch, a longtime elder statesman of Utah, after Trump signed an executive order returning the land to locals last year.
“I am deeply grateful for his willingness to work with us to undo the harm caused by the overreach of his predecessors,” Hatch, now retired, said.
Government ownership of Western American lands has caused considerable tension in states like Utah and Nevada, due to being forced to submit to strict environmental regulations limiting development.
But Rep. Gallego is telling a different story, one accusing Trump of taking “drastic, unprecedented steps to illegally shrink the monument.”
Gallego invoked Native American leaders and widespread archeological finds to justify a reinstatement and expansion of Obama’s land usurpation.
According to a statement, his bill would “not only protect the original land previously designated by President Obama but also expand Bears Ears to the full 1.9 million acres of land identified by local tribes as containing sacred artifacts and cultural resources.”
The bill has more than 70 Democratic co-sponsors in the House, all of whom seem to equate non-federal control with surefire environmental destruction.
“No national treasure is under more threat from the Trump Administration’s effort to sell off priceless public lands to the highest bidder than Bears Ears National Monument,” Gallego said.
Co-sponsor Rep. Deb Haalland, D-N.M., added, “Part of the mission of public lands is to protect sacred sites and preserve them for future generations, but under the current boundaries at Bears Ears National Monument those sites are at risk of disappearing forever.”
A number of high-profile left-wing environmental groups are also backing the bill, including the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and the San Francisco-based Earthjustice.