Trump to Sign Executive Order Reviewing Designation of All National Monuments

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney speaks at the White House in Washington. Mulvaney says that Democratic negotiators on a massive spending bill need to agree to funding top priorities of President Donald

White House budget director Mick Mulvaney speaks at the White House in Washington. Mulvaney says that Democratic negotiators on a massive spending bill need to agree to funding top priorities of President Donald

In a move that could eventually lead to national monuments losing their designation, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Wednesday directing the Interior Secretary to review all national monuments designated by his three predecessors over the past 21 years.

The orders could expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans and upend public lands protections put in place in Utah, Maine and other states.

Sixteen presidents have cemented their legacies by designating new public lands and national monuments, a power granted to them under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Trump's executive order asks officials to "review prior monument designations and suggest legislative changes or modifications to the monuments", Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters in a conference call Tuesday evening, adding that such a review was "long overdue".

Gov. Paul LePage says he will testify before Congress next week to urge lawmakers to reverse the designation of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument in Maine.

For a century, USA presidents have enjoyed unilateral authority under the act, but former President Barack Obama's controversial decision to create Bears Ears National Monument in Utah set the table for a reform movement. The Antiquities Act does not give the president explicit power to undo a designation and no president has ever taken such a step.

Christy Goldfuss, who headed the White House Council on Environmental Quality at the end of Obama's second term, said in an interview that she expects the new administration will have difficulty altering the boundaries of existing monuments. Zinke added large monument designations can hurt jobs and economic activity, especially if local voices are left out of the process.

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"It is untested, as you know, whether the president can do that", Zinke said. "The law is clear-only Congress has the authority to erase or modify national monuments, and Congress has wisely used that power sparingly over the last hundred years", CWP said in a statement.

But experts and supporters of the national monument law say Trump can't rescind designations because the Antiquities Act doesn't explicitly provide for that.

Kristina Waggoner, vice president of the Boulder-Escalante Chamber of Commerce in Utah, said business near the Grand Staircase-Escalante monument in southern Utah are booming, driven by sharp increases in tourism since the area was designated in 1996 by President Bill Clinton.

"Show me the money", said Ashley Korenblat from Public Land Solutions.

Conservation groups have condemned the impending executive order as an attack on US public lands.

Spoiler alert: the review is likely to find that many monuments should be eliminated or shrunk dramatically.

Lands such as the Grand Staircase, Organ Mountains, and Bears Ears are among the most spectacular and are cherished by millions. Donald Trump, Jr. has also said he is in favor of "refunding" federal lands to keep them out of private control. Dozens of the nation's most treasured national parks were first protected as monuments, including Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Acadia and Olympic national parks.

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