They’re at it again.
Right-wing ideologues in Congress who would stymie the President’s ability to create new national monuments have once again brought forth legislation, their previous flagship bill having died at the end of 2014.
Introduced recently by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), H.R. 330 would require any effort by the President to designate new national monuments to clear a vote by Congress, among other high hurdles. Ever since the Antiquities Act became law in 1906 presidents have protected as national monuments areas of scenic, ecological, and historical importance.
In California, Muir Woods National Monument (established by President Theodore Roosevelt) and Giant Sequoia National Monument (set aside by President Bill Clinton) represent just two examples. And many national monuments have gone on to become beloved national parks—Grand Canyon and Death Valley, to name just two.
But Young’s bill and two other mirror bills recently introduced—S. 228 by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and H.R. 900 by Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID)—would subject monument proposals to expensive reviews at the state and federal level. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in 2013 estimated that implementing this legislation would cost about $2 million over the 2014-2018 timeframe. Additional studies required under the proposed statute would increase the cost of designating new monuments by about $300,000 apiece.
Not only are these sites intrinsic parts of our national heritage, the tourism they generate in often-remote areas represents a huge economic shot in the arm for them.
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Here are some of California’s most recent National Monument designations: