Press Release

Jan 24, 2014

DEFAZIO, GRIJALVA LEAD 109 DEMOCRATS IN URGING INTERIOR TO CONSERVE NATIONAL TREASURES USING ANTIQUITIES ACT

For Immediate Release: January 24, 2014
Contact:
Jen Gilbreath (Resources), 202-225-4081
 
 
DEFAZIO, GRIJALVA LEAD 109 DEMOCRATS IN URGING INTERIOR TO CONSERVE NATIONAL TREASURES USING ANTIQUITIES ACT
 
Republican Congress has failed to protect America’s treasured landscapes
 
Washington, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee Peter DeFazio (D-OR) and Public Lands Subcommittee Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-AZ) released a letter co-signed by 109 House Democrats urging Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to protect and conserve national treasures under the Antiquities Act. The letter was sent on the same day that Sec. Jewell will host a community meeting in New Mexico to discuss protecting the Organ Mountains.
 
In the letter, the members write, “In today’s deeply partisan environment, it’s becoming nearly impossible for Congress to make critical conservation decisions.  The 112th Congress was the first Congress in 40 years that failed to permanently protect any of America’s treasured landscapes. The current Congress is on a path to repeat that abysmal record.”
 
The House Natural Resources Committee has only held hearings on eight of 37 land designation proposals offered in the 113th Congress. Only one has passed the House. With only 121 legislative days scheduled for 2014, the time to act is running out.
 
In April 2013, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on a suite of bills designed to gut Presidential authority to designate new wilderness, National Parks, and National Monuments outlined in the Antiquities Act. Congressional Gateway communities throughout the country benefit from Federal conservation efforts -- resources are protected, visitor experience is enhanced, and local economies are enhanced. At National Parks alone, visitors spend more than $35 million per day.
 
A copy of the letter and a list of signatories is available below. You can also find the letter here.
 
 
Brief Facts/Information on the Antiquities Act:
 
  • Sixteen of the 19 Presidentssince 1906 created 137 monuments, including the Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Zion, Olympic, the Statue of Liberty, and the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal.
 
  • President Franklin Roosevelt used his authority the most often—on 28 occasions.
 
  • President George W. Bush proclaimed the most monument acreage, virtually all in marine areas, including the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, with approximately 89 million acres; the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, with 60.9 million acres; the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument, with 55.6 million acres; and the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument, with 8.6 million acres. The latter three areas form the largest protected ocean area in the world.
 
  • Out of the 137 Monuments created since 1906, 32 have been redesignated as National Parks.
 
  • Three Presidents had the opportunity to use the Antiquities Act but chose not to (Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan & George H.W. Bush).
 
  • Although President Reagan was one of three Presidents not to use the Antiquities Act, he signed 43 wilderness bills into law designating a net total of 10.6 million acres.
 
  • During the dedication ceremony of the new National Geographic Headquarters, President Reagan said, “What is a conservative after all but one who conserves, one who is committed to protecting and holding close the things by which we live…. And we want to protect and conserve the land on which we live — our countryside, our rivers and mountains, our plains and meadows and forests. This is our patrimony. This is what we leave to our children. And our great moral responsibility is to leave it to them either as we found it or better than we found it.”  -- June 19, 1984
 
 
 
January 24, 2014
 
The Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
 
Dear Secretary Jewell:
 
We are writing in response to your recent comments about the Antiquities Act and your ongoing commitment to conservation and historic preservation on Federal land. Only Congress has the authority to establish National Parks, Forests, and wilderness areas, but there is a long tradition of the conservation initiatives spearheaded by the President. Since the 1906 passage of the Antiquities Act, Presidents have had the authority to establish National Monuments. This is an important tool that has led to the protection of some our most iconic landscapes and valuable cultural resources, including the Grand Canyon and the recently enacted Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. Some initiatives require Presidential leadership and should not be bogged down by political infighting and paralysis, increasingly common characteristics of Congress.
 
In today’s deeply partisan environment, it’s becoming nearly impossible for Congress to make critical conservation decisions.  The 112th Congress was the first Congress in 40 years that failed to permanently protect any of America’s treasured landscapes. The current Congress is on a path to repeat that abysmal record. There are 37 land designation bills sitting before Congress that have broad public support. Unfortunately, Congress is failing to act.  The House Natural Resources Committee has only held hearings on 8 of these proposals and only one has moved beyond markup and passed the House. With only 121 legislative days scheduled for 2014, the time to act is running out. Many of these proposals are excellent candidates for an Antiquities Act designation by the President.
 
On April 16, 2013, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on a suite of bills designed to dilute the Presidential authority outlined in the Antiquities Act. The theme of the hearing was overreach with a strong emphasis placed on the need to make the National Monument process more inclusive by requiring Congressional approval. As you know, Congress already has the opportunity to take the lead but is choosing to shun this role. Conservation and historic preservation initiatives with broad public support should not have to be sidelined or stalled because of political paralysis. Gateway communities throughout the country benefit from Federal conservation efforts; resources are protected, visitor experience is enhanced, and local economies are enhanced. At National Parks alone, visitors spend more than $35 million per day. Our most significant resources deserve our attention.
 
Again, we are encouraged by your enthusiasm, and we look forward to your leadership to help identify appropriate sites for conservation and preservation. When Congress is unable to advance conservation legislation, the importance of the Antiquities Act is increasingly apparent.  
 
Sincerely,
 
Peter DeFazio
Raul Grijalva
Rush Holt
Grace Napolitano
Alan Lowenthal
Betty McCollum
Keith Ellison
Jim Moran
Jared Huffman
Sander Levin
Jerrold Nadler
Lucille Roybal-Allard
Tony Cardenas
Ben Ray Lujan
Ted Deutch
Jim McGovern
Sam Farr
Tim Walz
Nicky Tsongas
Bobby Scott
Gerry Connolly
Barbara Lee
Carolyn B. Maloney
John Conyers
Mike Thompson (CA)
Mike Honda
Suzan Del Bene
Bill Keating
David Cicilline
Mike Quigley
Gwen Moore
Fredericka Wilson
Jim Costa
Diana DeGette
Lois Capps
Bennie Thompson (MS)
Jared Polis
Paul Tonko
Henry Waxman
Anna G. Eshoo
Kathy Castor
Steve Israel
Zoe Lofgren
Marcia Fudge
Adam Schiff
Dan Lipinski
Suzanne Bonamici
Matt Cartwright
Judy Chu
Lujan Grisham
Maxine Waters
John B. Larson
Dina Titus
Lloyd Doggett
Jerry McNerney
Rick Larsen
Cheri Bustos
Rosa DeLauro
Allyson. Y. Schwartz
Jose Serrano
Beto O'Rourke
Earl Blumenauer
David Price
Jim McDermott
Lois Frankel
Katherine Clark
Patrick E. Murphy
Adam Smith
Chris Van Hollen
John Lewis
Carol Shea-Porter
Donna Christensen
Mark Pocan
John Sarbanes
Yvette D. Clarke
Mark Takano
Joe Garcia
Steve Cohen
Brad Schneider
John Delaney
Raul Ruiz
Mike Doyle
Doris Matsui
Pete P. Gallego
Alcee L. Hastings
Bruce Braley
Julia Brownley
Jim Langevin
Hank Johnson
Donna F. Edwards
Dan Maffei
Tim Bishop
Ann McLane Kuster
Louise Slaughter
Denny Heck
Debbie Wasserman Schultz
George Miller
Joe Crowley
Frank Pallone, Jr.
Jackie Speier
Elizabeth Esty
Scott Peters
Emanuel Cleaver, II
Michael E. Capuano
Elijah E. Commings
Bobby L. Rush
Ron Kind
Dan Kildee
Bill Foster