From: The Committee on Natural Resources – Minority Staff
Sent By: firstname.lastname@example.org
Deadline: Tuesday, January 21
Supported by: Sierra Club, Wilderness Society, League of Conservation Voters, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Pew Environment, Society for American Archaeology, National Wildlife Federation, Conservation Lands Foundation, National Parks Conservation Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands
Current Signers: Holt, Napolitano, Lowenthal, McCollum, Ellison, Moran, Huffman, Levin, Nadler , Roybal-Allard, Cardenas, Ben Ray Lujan, Deutch, McGovern, Farr, Walz, Tsongas, Scott, Connolly, Lee, Maloney, Conyers, Thompson (CA), Honda, DelBene, Keating, Cicilline, Quigley, Moore, Wilson, Costa, DeGette, Capps, Thompson (MS), Polis, Tonko, Waxman, Eshoo, Castor, Israel, Lofgren, Fudge, Schiff, Lipinski, Bonamici, Cartwright, Chu
Dear Colleague- The 113th Congress is on track to be the second Congress in a row that fails to protect any additional federal land or add any new land to the National Wilderness Preservation System. Under House Republican leadership, irrespective of public support, bills to create National Monuments, expand National Parks, and establish new Wilderness Areas are not seeing the light of the day. 38 bills designed to protect federal land have been in introduced this Congress. Only one has passed the House, and many sit on the shelf, ignored by the Majority, awaiting action.
Fortunately, the Antiquities Act provides the President with the authority to establish new National Monuments, and move to protect special places that deserve recognition when Congress fails to provide leadership. As Interior Secretary Jewell noted in an October 31, 2013 speech at the National Press Club, there are “some places that are too special to develop”, and political paralysis should not prevent the protection of the nation’s most valuable resources. In the same speech, Secretary Jewell stated that “if Congress doesn’t step up to act to protect some of these important places that have been identified by communities and people throughout the country, then the president will take action”. Her words were greeted with a standing ovation. Conservation of public lands has broad public support. In fact, a 2013 poll conducted by Colorado College found that 74 percent of Westerners polled agreed that “national parks, forests, monuments, and wildlife areas help attract high quality employers and good jobs to their state”.
This year is the 50th Anniversary of the historic Wilderness Act, and we shouldn’t allow political paralysis to prevent the conservation of our special places, especially where enhanced federal protection will benefit local communities, guarantee resources are not damaged or looted, and conserve land for the enjoyment of future generations.
Secretary Jewell got it right in October; conservation cannot always wait for Congress and the Antiquities Act is often an appropriate venue to support our nation’s most treasured historic, cultural, and natural resources. Please join us in signing the below letter to show our support for the administration’s conservation strategy and use of the Antiquities Act to establish new National Monuments.
To sign the letter, or if you have questions, please contact, Brandon Bragato with the Democratic staff of the Natural Resources Committee.
Committee on Natural Resources
Raúl M. Grijalva
Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation
January 22, 2014
The Honorable Sally Jewell, Secretary
Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington DC 20240
Dear Secretary Jewell:
We are writing in response to your recent comments about the Antiquities Act and your ongoing commitment to conservation and historic preservation on Federal land. Only Congress has the authority to establish National Parks, Forests, and wilderness areas, but there is a long tradition of the conservation initiatives spearheaded by the President. Since the 1906 passage of the Antiquities Act, Presidents have had the authority to establish National Monuments. This is an important tool that has led to the protection of some our most iconic landscapes and valuable cultural resources, including the Grand Canyon and the recently enacted Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument. Some initiatives require Presidential leadership and should not be bogged down by political infighting and paralysis, increasingly common characteristics of Congress.
In today’s deeply partisan environment, it’s becoming nearly impossible for Congress to make critical conservation decisions. The 112th Congress was the first Congress in 40 years that failed to permanently protect any of America’s treasured landscapes. The current Congress is on a path to repeat that abysmal record. There are 37 land designation bills sitting before Congress that have broad public support. Unfortunately, Congress is failing to act. The House Natural Resources Committee has only held hearings on 8 of these proposals and only one has moved beyond markup and passed the House. With only 112 legislative days scheduled for 2014, the time for Congress to act is running out. Many of these proposals are excellent candidates for an Antiquities Act designation by the President.
On April 16, 2013, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on a suite of bills designed to dilute the Presidential authority outlined in the Antiquities Act. The theme of the hearing was overreach with a strong emphasis placed on the need to make the National Monument process more inclusive by requiring Congressional approval. As you know, Congress already has the opportunity to take the lead but is choosing to shun this role. Conservation and historic preservation initiatives with broad public support should not have to be sidelined or stalled because of political paralysis. Gateway communities throughout the country benefit from Federal conservation efforts; resources are protected, visitor experience is enhanced, and local economies are enhanced. At National Parks alone, visitors spend more than $35 million per day. Our most significant resources deserve our attention.
Again, we are encouraged by your enthusiasm, and we look forward to your leadership to help identify appropriate sites for conservation and preservation. When Congress is unable to advance conservation legislation, the importance of the Antiquities Act is increasingly apparent, and we support its use to establish new National Monuments where appropriate.
Member of Congress
Raúl M. Grijalva
Member of Congress