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New Executive Order a Gift to Oil and Gas Industry, Anti-Public Lands Interests
SANTA FE, NM–WildEarth Guardians today condemned the executive order issued by President Trump directing the Department of the Interior to examine all designations of national monuments by previous Presidents since January 1, 1996.
“The clear but unstated goal of Trump’s executive order is to remove existing protections on Americans’ public lands,” said Chris Krupp, Public Lands Guardians for WildEarth Guardians. “The coal, oil and gas industries will be looking to mine and frack on public lands that are no longer protected once monument boundaries are redrawn.”
The order seems expressly designed to gratify far-right Utah politicians opposed to safeguarding American public lands. Specifically in the crosshairs is Utah’s 1.35 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, a stunning and culturally significant landscape in southeastern Utah that has been increasingly under threat by expanded oil and gas development in the region. The January 1, 1996 date for which all subsequent designations are subject to review also commits Interior to examining Utah’s Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, designated on September 18, 1996.
While the order may appease Utah politicians, it is against the wishes of most Americans. A 2017 poll by Colorado College found that 80 percent of Westerners support maintaining existing National Monument designations, with only 13 percent opposed. In Utah, 60 percent of residents want to keep existing designations, with 30 percent opposed. The same poll found that by more than a 3:1 margin Westerners want protection of public lands to take precedence over energy development.