Letter to Obama Ľ All Utahns in Congress oppose the designation of Greater Canyonlands.
By Matt canham
| The Salt Lake Tribune
First Published Jul 30 2014 04:20 pm ē Last Updated Jul 31 2014 12:30 pm
Fourteen liberal senators sent a letter to President Barack Obama on Wednesday urging him to create a new national monument in southeastern Utah forever protecting redrock mesas, ancient cliff dwellings and a hunting site thatís 12,000 years old.
The letter is sure to irritate Utahís members of Congress, who have attempted to curtail the presidentís power to set aside such land and oppose a new Greater Canyonlands National Monument, which would block oil and gas drilling and other uses on 1.8 million acres.
A coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance helped collect the signatures of senators such as Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
"Greater Canyonlands is one of our nationís most stunning, wild and unique landscapes," the letter reads. "It should be protected permanently for the benefit and education of future generations."
The Navajo Nation has also lobbied the Interior Department to create a national monument in the area, since it contains some areas they consider sacred.
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it wasnít surprising that Democratic senators want the monument, but said: "It is discouraging that they want President Obama to abuse that authority on lands in a state they donít live in or represent in the Senate."
The 1906 Antiquities Act allows presidents to unilaterally create national monuments and Obama has used it a handful of times. In his State of the Union address this year, he promised additional ones.
"Iíll use my authority," he said, "to protect more of our pristine federal lands for future generations."
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, doesnít want to see that happen. He pushed legislation this year that would require a thorough environmental study of any new national monument and would limit the presidentís power by capping it at one monument per state each four-year term.
The House passed Bishopís bill but the Senate hasnít taken it up.Source.... http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/politics/58242954-90/bishop-canyonlands-create-greater.html.cspAnother link... http://www.ksl.com/index.php?sid=30941693&nid=148&title=14-senators-pitch-new-national-monument-in-utah