Rolling up to the landmark of his first 100 days in the Oval Office, President Trump is signing an executive order directing the Department of the Interior to undertake a review of national monuments designated under the Clinton, Bush and Obama presidencies.
The president called the last two decades of national park conservation "another egregious abuse of federal power," sparking fears that his end goal is to seriously roll back regulations, paving the way for fossil fuel development in and around America's protected natural landmarks.
Already facing a barrage of legal threats and actions, the president can add another one to his growing laundry list: clothing company Patagonia is threatening to sue Trump if he so much as attempts to remove any existing protections for national monuments.
Secretary of the Interior, and former Montana congressman Ryan Zinke, will oversee the federal review. Specifically in Trump's crosshairs are former Presidents Obama's and Clinton's contested designations of two national monuments in Utah.
Utah congressional lawmakers and local representatives have urged that Bear Ears National Monument (Obama, 2016) and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (Clinton, 1996) have their protections rescinded. Anybody want to take a wild guess as to why?
If you guessed "There might be oil under those National Monuments!" you're 100% correct. At the signing of the executive order for the review, Trump said:
“The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it's time we ended this abusive practice...”
Both Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke have been vocal in their support for increased U.S. fossil fuel production and exports.
As a result, environmentalists and progressives are crippled with fear that this review is the first step towards large-scale, unfettered oil extraction in our national parks. Patagonia - long associated with a rugged outdoorsy lifestyle suited to explorers of national parks - is challenging Trump, pledging to stand in the way of his fossil fuel fixation.
The company's CEO, Rose Marcario, said in a statement firing back at the planned review:
“A president does not have the authority to rescind a National Monument. An attempt to change the boundaries ignores the review process of cultural and historical characteristics and the public input...
We’re watching the Trump administration’s actions very closely and preparing to take every step necessary, including legal action, to defend our most treasured public landscapes from coast to coast.”
Patagonia has long been keeping tabs on Bear Ears National Monument, which is home to five indigenous American tribes. Check out this video posted to their Instagram account 7 weeks ago, anticipating the looming battle over the site's environmental protections:
President Trump, who once said "Signing executive orders are not the way our country was supposed to be run," in criticism of Barack Obama, has signed more Executive Orders in his first 100 days than any president in history.
Many of the executive orders and bills he's signed have been largely anti-environmental in nature, even after Trump gave lip service to Earth Day celebrations on Twitter. But in those tweets, he included an important caveat:
I am committed to keeping our air and water clean but always remember that economic growth enhances environmental protection. Jobs matter!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2017
Unfortunately, the president's idea of "economic growth" and "unleashing the energy industry" is largely antithetical to protecting the environment.
Noting that his cabinet and trusted inner circle is comprised of many former oil industry executives, Patagonia delivered one final forceful response to Trump's National Monuments review:
"We take this as a sign that Trump and his team prefer to cater to fossil fuel interests and state land grabs for unsustainable development, rather than preserve a vital part of our nation's heritage for future generations by protecting federal lands owned by every citizen."
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