(NaturalNews) The federal government once more dramatically increased its land holdings at the expense of states in recent days, as noted by a White House announcement that said President Obama has used the century-old Antiquities Act again to designate three new national monuments totaling 1 million acres.
In particular, as reported by the San Jose Mercury News, Obama created the 704,000-acre Basin and Range National Monument north of Las Vegas, the Berryessa Snow Mountain National Monument, a 100-mile stretch of land reaching across roughly 100 miles of northern California, and Waco Mammoth National Monument in Texas.
In an announcement, the White House bragged:
Together, the new monuments protect over one million acres of public land. These monuments will also provide a boost to local economies by attracting visitors and generating more revenue and jobs for local communities, further supporting an outdoor recreation industry that already generates $646 billion in consumer spending each year. With these new designations, President Obama will have used the Antiquities Act to establish or expand 19 national monuments. Altogether, he has protected more than 260 million acres of public lands and waters – more than any other President.
As the White House gushed, so, too, did a number of environmental groups who, like this president, have no regard for private and state-owned property and the chance for economic development that such designations take away from ordinary citizens.
This was no lost on U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who derided Obama for showing “complete disdain for Congress and the people of Nevada, California and Texas.”
In a statement of his own, Bishop said:
Following the example of Jimmy Carter, the Obama Administration is using and abusing the Antiquities Act as a political weapon. The worst part is that the act doesn’t guarantee public input. In fact, the vast majority of monuments that have been created through the Antiquities Act were created with no public input whatsoever. The people in the counties deserve the right to continue their work on locally-driven land initiatives without threats like these hanging over their heads.
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, another Utah Republican, said he believed Obama and future presidents should be barred from using the Antiquities Act to designate national monuments on land where local county officials have instituted a land management program.
“The Congressional process guarantees public involvement and ensures that all local interests are considered,” he said. “To avoid the debacle that is now Lincoln County, any county participating in a local planning process should demand such an exemption be included in the final bill, I know that I will.”
Obama is certainly not the only U.S. president to essentially steal state and private land in ways that deprive states and their residents of economic benefits. In 1996, President Bill Clinton designated the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument after his administration had made public assurances that he would not do so. The designation had – and continues to have – massive negative economic effects on Utah and the country.
Clinton’s designation “locked out a lot of ranchers, they locked out a whole bunch of clean coal,” Utah Gov. Gary Herbert said in 2010. “Clean coal” has far less sulfur and ash than other coal and is far less common; locking it up on a national monument meant that it could not be developed.
Western states are particularly sensitive to federal land ownership; the vast majority of federal land is located in the region.
Remember Cliven Bundy?
Federal land ownership also brings federal rules and regulations, and increasingly citizens of states where the Feds own much of the land are growing frustrated with having to deal with out-of-control authoritarian agencies that “manage” federal land, like the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management.
This frustration came to a head in the spring of 2014, when the BLM sent a small army of heavily armed agents to Nevada to enforce a court order against longtime rancher Cliven Bundy (see that story here).
It was an unprecedented use of force by the BLM against an American citizen who had rights to the land that his family has owned for generations. But that’s what happens when Uncle Sam is your landlord.
Some have suggested one of the ways the government could retire much of its national debt would be to sell off the land it has obtained over the years to private commercial interests or to turn it back over to state governments. But Obama’s recent actions make it plain that that’s not going to happen anytime soon.
Written by J. D. Heyes
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