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Trump to Shrink Utah National Monuments to Allow Drilling, Mining

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Goosenecks State Park Overlook at Bears Ears National Monument in Utah. Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management / Flickr

The Trump administration will shrink two national monuments in Utah including the 1.3 million-acre Bears Ears National Monument, opening the lands up for potential industry use.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) confirmed in a Friday statement that Trump called the senator to inform him of the Bears Ears decision and that he will also shrink Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, which is thought to contain more than 60 billion tons of coal.


Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah in the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monumentharryhayashi / istockphoto.com

Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke recommended downsizing Bears Ears in June, saying that the Antiquities Act should be used to protect the "smallest area" needed to cover important sites. The president will travel to Utah to announce plans to trim the monuments in December.

"It is a disgrace that the President wants to undo the nation's first national monument created to honor Native American cultural heritage. And a travesty that he's trying to unravel a century's worth of conservation history–all behind closed doors," said Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, in a statement referring to Bears Ears.

"The American people want these special places protected. We will fight any illegal attempt by this administration to turn our national treasures over to private interests for polluters' profits."

As reported by the Salt Lake Tribune:

" ... Sen. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City, called the move an 'ugly violation of stewardship responsibility' that will undermine Utah's fastest growing industry: tourism.

'Trump, with the conniving help of the Utah congressional delegation, just strangled the golden goose of Utah's future jobs—the outdoor recreation industry,' Dabakis said. 'The winners in the president's decision are the fossil fuels industry, giant international coal companies and the pollution industry. The losers are Utah families, outdoor enthusiasts, hunters, campers, climbers and all who appreciate the unspeakable beauty of our state.'"

For a deeper dive:

New York Times, Salt Lake Tribune, Reuters, Washington Post, The Hill, LA Times

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