House Republicans are moving to revamp a century-old law used by presidents to protect millions of acres of federal land considered historic, geographically significant or culturally important.
Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah says the 1906 Antiquities Act has been misused by presidents of both parties to create oversized monuments that hinder energy development, grazing and other uses. Bishop, chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has introduced a bill that would restrict a president’s ability to designate monuments larger than 640 acres and grant veto power to states and local officials for monuments larger than 10,000 acres.
The bill comes as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended that four large national monuments in the West be reduced in size, potentially opening hundreds of thousands of acres to mining and logging.
President Theodore Roosevelt established the first national monument, Devils Tower, in Wyoming in 1906. Devil’s Tower has retained the designation as a National Monument since then. Wyoming is also home to the Fossil Butte National Monument, in Lincoln County.
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AP contributed to this report.