Since the implementation of the 1906 Antiquities Act, presidents have been able to create national monuments where and when they see fit. But a bill introduced by the House of Representatives last week would change that, forcing the commander in chief to get approval from Congress before designating any national monuments.
Representative Don Young (R-Alaska) sponsored the bill, which also calls for an environmental review of national monument proposals and approval from nearby state governments for marine monument proposals, according to ThinkProgress.
It’s not out of the ordinary for a president to exercise national monument power. George W. Bush set aside the Pacific Remote Islands National Marine Monument in 2009, and Barack Obama created the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in Southern California last year. Several areas originally designated as national monuments have gone on to become national parks, such as Grand Teton, Arches, and Joshua Tree.
The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) decried the bill soon after it was introduced. “Americans value our national parks and iconic areas like Grand Canyon and Statue of Liberty, but this legislation would attack the century-old law that has helped protect them,” LCV deputy legislative director Alex Taurel said in a statement. “By introducing this bill, Rep. Young has proven how out of step with the American people he truly is.”
A Hart Research poll backs up Taurel’s statement. According to the poll, 69 percent of Americans oppose stopping the creation of new national parks, wilderness areas, and monuments.