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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Who is Calling for the Review of Our National Monuments?

On April 26th 2017, the Trump administration announced its plan to review 22 national monuments established under the Antiquities Act since 1996. The Antiquities Act is federal law that authorizes the President to designate national monuments on federal property. National Monuments cannot be designated on state or private property.

On May 5th, the Department of Interior announced a 45 day comment period on this review, asking the public to comment on the legality of these designations, their impact upon multiple uses, local support, and impacts upon regional economies. 

Many immediately questioned the President's motivation for ordering this review.  Two of the main arguments offered up as support for this review are that the public doesn't support monument designations and that they harm regional economies, killing jobs, and ending traditional uses of the land.

Immediately after the President's announcement in April, I filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Departments of Interior, Agriculture, Commerce, and Energy for the following:

a.      Any public communication to the Department of Interior and/or its Bureaus on or since January 20, 2017 requesting a review of the national monuments identified in President Trump’s Executive Order dated April 26, 2017.

b.  Any information on the impacts to local, regional, and national economies produced by the monuments at issue.

All agencies, expect the Department of Agriculture have confirmed receipt of the requests.  The DOE, DOI, and DOC began processing the request almost immediately.  

The Department of Energy (DOE) has completed its review and found no records responsive to request.  Under President Trump, the Department of Energy has received not one request to review national monuments. In other words, no one has called upon President Trump to make this review. Nor does the DOE have any information on the impact national monuments have on regional economies. 

It's expected the remaining agencies will turn up a similar lack of information. 

So if Trump hasn't received a request to make this review and the federal government has no information on the economic impacts of these monuments, the major questions remains, why is the Trump administration conducting this review?

The DOE's response can be found below.


Sean Smith is an award winning conservationist and author. He is a former National Park Ranger at Yellowstone, a TEDx speaker, and private pilot. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1989 with a degree in Political Science. He got his master's in Natural Resources Management from Central Washington University in 1996. He currently runs Washington State's efforts to reduce and eliminate toxic chemicals from consumer products and serves as the Mayor Pro Tem of Covington.

He has been writing stories and books since he was a child and currently writes national park thrillers from the shadow of Mount Rainier.

All his novels can be found here: Mr. Sean D Smith