December 15, 2017 - Washington, D.C. – In a desperate effort to cover up President Trump’s illegal proclamation to shrink Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, House Republicans held a hearing Thursday on a bill to abolish the national monument and replace it with three new monuments and a national park. Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) points out that the immediate introduction and swift committee consideration of H.R. 4558 confirms the Utah delegation lacks confidence in the legality of the President's decision.
To make things worse, the Republican-backed bill cedes authority to manage the new national park to a management council, primarily made up of state and county government officials. This is a giveaway - handing over the management of federal land to local government officials undermines the federal government’s ability to manage these resources on behalf of all Americans.
“Republicans scrambled to pull together a Grand Staircase-Escalante bill and rushed to hold a hearing on it today because the monument lawsuits against Trump are piling up and they know they’re going to lose,” Grijalva said. “If destroying protections for federal public land is really the Utah delegation’s top priority, they could have introduced legislation to redo Grand Staircase-Escalante at the beginning of the 114th Congress – or any other time over the last 20 years – rather than encourage Secretary Zinke’s sham review and President Trump’s illegal proclamation. Rushing to consider a barely introduced bill without comment from the either of the relevant federal land management agencies is reckless.”
Efforts to redraw and greatly reduce the boundaries of Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument ignore the fact that most Utahans support the original designation, including:
- The Democratic witness – Susan K. Hand who owns a small business near the national monument – talked about the regional economic boom since President Clinton designated the monument in 1996.
- More than 50 percent of Utahans who view the designation as a good thing for the state, according to a Pew Charitable Trust poll.
- The National Parks Conservation Association, the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and a coalition of more than 65 organizations all sent letters opposing the bill.
- Hundreds of people from Utah and outside of Utah who wrote letters to the Committee urging Members of Congress to vote no on the bill.
Source: Natural Resources Committee Democrats Ranking Member Raul M.Grijalva