Release: House Members Call on President Obama to Designate More Monuments
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Yesterday, a dozen members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to use his authority under the National Antiquities Act to designate more of our public lands as national monuments.
Monument designations have the dual benefit of preserving our natural landscapes and providing a boost to the surrounding area’s economy. As a recent letter from 100 of our country’s preeminent economists details, these natural amenities provide
“growth from in-migration, tourism, and modern economy sectors such as finance, engineering, software development, insurance, and health care.... [Furthermore], entrepreneurs are basing their business location decisions on the quality of life in an area. Businesses are recruiting talented employees by promoting access to beautiful, nearby public lands.”
Protecting our most cherished public lands is a simple way to help our economy while ensuring that these lands are preserved for the enjoyment of future generations. With summer in full swing and the lack of action by House Republicans on this critical issue, it is imperative that the President use the powers afforded to him by the Antiquities Act to ensure that Americans can continue enjoying our valuable national landscapes.
Said SEEC Co-Chair Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA): “Since President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devil’s Tower in Wyoming as America’s first national monument, through President George W. Bush’s designation of more national monument acreage than any of his predecessors, our Nation has a long and rich history of Democratic and Republican Presidents establishing national monuments to fulfill the promise of the Antiquities Act of 1906. I was proud that President Obama chose the Commonwealth of Virginia’s own Fort Monroe for his first national monument proclamation, and I urge the President to continue to take decisive action to preserve and protect our country’s historic landmarks for future generations.”
“The pursuit of National Monument designations around the country represents the collective effort of the conservation community and local stakeholders to protect lands that are as beautiful as they are culturally significant,” said SEEC Member Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM). “In New Mexico, we have a very close cultural connection to the land. Many years of work went in to the creation of the El Rio Grande del Norte proposal in my district. It recognizes and reflects the need to protect environmentally sensitive areas, while also taking into account the special access that needs to be allowed on these lands for the traditions and cultures of the surrounding communities to thrive”
Spearheaded by SEEC Co-Chair Gerry Connolly and SEEC Member Ben Ray Lujan, co-signers include: SEEC Co-Chair Paul Tonko; SEEC Vice-Chair Jared Polis; SEEC Members Mike Quigley, Lynn Woolsey, Earl Blumenauer, Maurice Hinchey, Shelley Berkley, Martin Heinrich, and Michael Honda.
The full text of the letter is below:
July 25, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
Thank you for using your authority under the Antiquities Act to establish Fort Monroe and Fort Ord as America’s newest national monuments. As members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC), we are writing to request that you use this authority to protect more of America’s greatest, most threatened places. Last November, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar released a report highlighting 18 legislative opportunities to designate public lands as wilderness or National Conservation Areas. The report featured locally-supported proposals from Democrats and Republicans, including areas in some of our members’ districts:
- Rio Grande del Norte in New Mexico (Rep. Ben Ray Lujan)
- Castle Peak and Bull Gulch in Colorado (Rep. Jared Polis)
- Gold Butte and Pine Forest Range in Nevada (Rep. Shelley Berkley)
- Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary (Rep. Lynn Woolsey)
- Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (Rep. Lynn Woolsey)
Countless other areas in many of our districts in both the East and West mirror this bipartisan, local support and deserve protection. Thank you for challenging Congress to act on these noncontroversial proposals right away. Unfortunately, the Republican majority in the House has failed to pass a single one of these measures, even those introduced by Republicans and instead has focused on rolling back environmental protections for our nation’s land, water, and wildlife.
In light of the House’s failure to report legislation protecting federal public lands, we encourage you to use the Antiquities Act and protect our country's most cherished public lands for future generations. The report issued by Secretary Salazar provides a good starting point for lands to consider. Thank you for your steadfast efforts to protect the environment in the face of an unprecedented assault by the House majority and for your consideration of our request to protect public lands through administrative action.