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Bill would limit presidential use of Antiquities Act

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, wants to protect the state from any future national presidential monument designations, without local control.

Senator Lee says Utah ought to have protections against presidential abuse of the Antiquities Act. Alaska and Wyoming are currently protected from future antiquities act designations.

This bill says a president cannot designate a national monument in Utah without the consent of Congress and the state Legislature.

Senator Lee calls it the Protecting Utah’s Rural Economy act.

Utah officials were upset over President Clinton creating Grand-Staircase Escalante National Monument, and President Obama creating Bears Ears National Monument.

The Senator writes in the Deseret News that “for locals, that “protection” comes at a high cost, in the form of restrictions on travel, recreation and economic opportunities. Reduced grazing access is particularly harmful to Utah’s communities. Utah’s rural economy is built on the agriculture industry, and livestock is the state’s single largest source of farm income.”

But The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance says the bill is a “short-sighted attack on public lands treasured by the American people.” They say three of Utah’s famous national parks were first preserved by presidents as national monuments. Senator Lee countered on KSL Newsradio that those designations were done by acts of Congress.

Listen to his full interview with Brian and Amanda below.