One Republican senator says he’s fed up with the Antiquities Act following President Barack Obama’s designation last month of two more national monuments in Western states.
The century-old law gives presidents the the power to designate land as a national monument through executive action. Obama’s use of the law has won him praise from environmental groups, but also has drawn the ire of Republicans in Western states who view the President’s action through the prism of a land grab.
“You know I understand why Teddy Roosevelt had this in place and it seems to me that recently presidents have gone way beyond the original intent,” Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY) told TPM on Thursday. “At some point you you say ‘enough’ and I’m at that point right now.”
Repealing the law, which Obama most recently used to designate protected areas in Utah and adjacent to the Nevada site of the 2014 Bundy Ranch standoff, would significantly cut into the executive’s power and raises the interesting question of whether President-elect Donald Trump shares the position of his Republican colleague on public lands.
Trump and his son, Donald Trump, Jr., who is an avid hunter, have signaled that they don’t see eye to eye with Republicans on all lands issues.
In recent years, some Republicans from Western states have been moving toward a position on transferring federal lands to individual states rather than giving the federal government more jurisdiction over those lands. The principle was even included in the 2016 Republican Party platform. Yet Trump selected Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT), who was opposed to the party platform’s position on the land transfers, to be his nominee for secretary of the interior.
Donald Trump, Jr. also said in an interview last year that, of all the issues where Trump may disagree with the traditional Republican orthodoxy, land issues might take the cake.
“This is where we’ve probably broken away from a lot of the traditional conservative dogma on the issue, in that we do want federal lands to remain federal,” Trump Jr. said, according to Oregon Public Broadcasting.
So even if Republicans in Congress come to some consensus on undoing the Antiquities Act, they may run into problems with their own President-elect.