Dear 100 Hour Board,
What's the deal with Bear's Ears? Why is everyone so upset about it?
-I come to the board for my news
Anne, Certainly's point below is a valid one. Using the Antiquities Act to declare Bear Ear's a national monument wasn't ideal, and it would have been better to have Congress codify it in law. However, I think that that's not the main reason people are upset about it, when you get down to the heart of the matter. I think there are two other, more important reasons why people don't like it.
- Since it's a national monument, it can never be sold or leased, so it can't be used to drill for oil, as grazing land for cattle, etc.
- Obama did it. There are many things that Obama did that I don't agree with, but this isn't one of them. However, there are a lot of people that will take a position simply because it is contrary to that of Obama or "the liberals". As evidence that this very toxic attitude exists, I present to you Utah Congressman Rob Bishop, who proposed the Public Lands Initiative - which would have protected an area with boundaries very similar to those included in the Bear's Ears National Monument - but now opposes the land's designation as a national monument without giving a reason why as of the writing of this article.
Again, I think that something like the Public Lands Initiative would have been a better way to go about protecting the land, but President Obama felt that that would never happen under President Trump, so he took matters into his own hands, and I'm not terribly upset by the result.
To my understanding: (*In light of Ento's answer above: I'll give what I consider to be possibly the most legitimate reason to be upset about Bear's Ears, but he may well be right that most people are actually upset for other reasons)
Because it's really, really big, and it was created using an act that lets the President preserve "historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures, and other objects of historic or scientific interest" as National Monuments, and that says that he "may reserve as a part thereof parcels of land, the limits of which in all cases shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected."
People are ticked off because it seems back-door and procedurally improper to decide that >1.3 million acres is appropriately managed through this particular statute.
I tend to agree with the view that there are ways for the government to accomplish things like this, and this probably isn't the right one.