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Senators Lee and Romney reintroduce PURE Act, aimed at protecting Utah land

A view of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument from Spencer Flat on Sunday, July 9, 2017. (PHOTO: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah –Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney are joining forces to reintroduce a bill, which they say would better protect Utah’s rural lands.

Senators join forces, reintroduce land protection bill

The two have introduced the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy (PURE) Act. In a written statement, Senator Lee claims their bill would protect Utah from presidential Antiquities Act abuse. The Antiquities Act of 1906 was the first law in the United State to provide general protection of cultural or natural resources. It also was the first national historic preservation policy in America. 

“Rural Americans want what all Americans want: a dignified decent-paying job, a family to love and support, and a healthy community whose future is determined by local residents – not their self-styled better thousands of miles away,” said Lee.

Specifically, the bill would prohibit the president from establishing or expanding a national monument in Utah unless the proposed monument has been authorized by an act of Congress and the state legislature.

In his own statement, Senator Romney remarked that federal government overreach has gone too far in terms of controlling rural Utah land.

“Roughly two-thirds of Utah is owned by the federal government, putting our state at a disadvantage when it comes to decisions on the management of our public lands,” he explained. 

The announcement comes on the heels of news that President Biden is ordering a review to the boundaries of both Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in southern Utah. If President Biden were to expand the boundaries this year, it would come roughly four years after former President Trump slashed the overall size of both monuments.

“National monuments in particular have become a political football that gets tossed back and forth as presidential administrations change,” says Romney. “Given the recent executive order to review Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, it’s even more important that we work together to end the political back and forth. The legislative process is the best way to achieve this, and I will continue seeking opportunities to work with our federal, state and local elected leaders to come to a permanent solution.”