Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, December 13, 2017

Contact:  Randi Spivak, (310) 779-4894,

Republicans Advance Bill to Lock In Trump’s Elimination of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

WASHINGTON— The House Natural Resources Committee will consider legislation Thursday to eliminate Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.  

H.R. 4558, sponsored by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah), mirrors President Trump’s order last week to slash nearly 900,000 acres of protected public land and create three smaller national monuments.

The bill would carve up the existing 1.9-million-acre national monument into three smaller monuments: Grand Staircase (211,983 acres), Kaiparowits (551,117 acres) and Escalante Canyons (243,241 acres). The remaining 862,000 acres would be unprotected and open to fossil fuel extraction and other destructive uses. The bill would create a new Escalante Canyons National Park and Preserve and put Kane and Garfield counties in control of planning and management of the national monuments and park.

“Stewart’s bill ignores the 2.7 million Americans who urged the Trump administration to keep our national monuments protected,” said Randi Spivak, public lands program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Carving up one of America’s iconic national monuments to allow special interests to mine coal and toxic uranium is disgraceful.”

The new “national park” would be in name only. The bill would apply Utah state law on these federally owned lands instead of federal law. Unlike on all other national parks, hunting, fishing, trapping of wildlife, and grazing livestock would be allowed.

“Congressional Republicans continue to push an extreme right-wing agenda that would gut all meaningful protections for our public lands,” said Spivak. “We won’t let them hand control of America’s public lands to corporate interests. We’ll fight them in court, in Congress and in the streets.”

In 1996 President Clinton, using the Antiquities Act, created the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument to protect some of the most culturally important heritage sites and landscapes in our nation. The 1906 Antiquities Act grants the president the authority to create national monuments on federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, historic or scientific features. The Antiquities Act does not grant authority to presidents to diminish or rescind the monument designations.

Trump issued a proclamation Dec. 4 to strip monument protection from Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Conservation organizations, including the Center, filed suit the same day, attacking the proclamation as an abuse of the president’s power. The lawsuit states that the president violated the Antiquities Act by stripping protections from the monument.

Trump also ordered more than 1 million acres slashed from Utah’s Bears Ears National Monument. The moves to eviscerate these monuments are part of a larger attack on public lands by Trump and some members of Congress who want to slash protections and allow more oil and gas drilling, mining, logging and other industrial uses. Conservation groups, tribes and other organizations also have filed suit on Bears Ears.

In the first 11 months of the 115th Congress, Republicans have introduced more than 85 bills that attack public lands, weaken environmental safeguards on those lands or turn over control to states and local governments. These attacks come despite the fact that the vast majority of voters across political parties support protecting and maintaining forests, national parks, monuments and other public lands and waters.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.5 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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