1997 Scorecard Vote
The Antiquities Act is an effective tool for protecting our nation's natural heritage as well as historical, scenic, and scientific resources. Signed into law in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, the Act gives the President the authority to take swift action to protect significant federal lands and resources from imminent threats of exploitation such as logging, mining, oil drilling, and commercial development. Since enactment, 13 Presidents, from both political parties, have used the Act to proclaim 105 national monuments in order to protect outstanding historic, scientific, and scenic objects on federal lands. Many of these monuments were later designated by Congress as national parks, including Grand Canyon, Olympic, Joshua Tree, Acadia, Capitol Reef, Death Valley, Glacier Bay, and Denali. In the past 50 years the law has been used sparingly. Just 21 monument proclamations have been issued since 1943.
In September 1996, President Clinton declared 1.7 million acres in southern Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, to protect the area from a proposed massive mining operation, among other threats. The area has been considered for special protection for many years. Some western Members of Congress were angered by the President's action and, rather than exercise Congress' authority to reverse the specific Utah monument designation, responded by proposing broad limits to the President's authority to proclaim national monuments.
H.R. 1127, sponsored by Parks Subcommittee Chairman Jim Hansen (R-UT), would prohibit the President from unilaterally and rapidly designating a national monument larger than 50,000 acres, an arbitrary acreage limit that bears no relationship to the amount of land deserving protection and is smaller than most prior monuments. Before declaring a monument over 50,000 acres, H.R. 1127 requires the President to notify the governor of the state in which the federal land is located and allow 30 days for the state to comment. In addition, any monument established by the President would expire after two years unless Congress expressly approves the monument designation. These procedures and Congressional oversight would eliminate the President's current ability to provide threatened lands and resources with immediate protection. Environmental groups fought the legislation, believing that it would prevent important federal resources from being protected in the future, and would allow powerful Members of Congress to frustrate nationally significant land protection efforts.
On October 7, 1997, the House passed H.R. 1127, 229 -197. NO is the pro-environment vote.