A Sham Review
- On April 26, 2017, President Trump issues an executive order calling for a review the designations and expansions of certain national monuments. Primarily he ordered the secretary of the interior to review monuments made in or after 1996 and cover more than 100,000 acres to find whether they conform to the Antiquities Act requirements and that each designation was made with appropriate public input, outreach, and stakeholder participation. The President further asked for recommendations on whether or not to shrink or repeal any of these designations. This was an unprecedented move by President Trump and potentially a giant land give away to corporations like the oil, gas, and coal industries.
- The executive order gave Secretary Ryan Zinke until August 24, 2017, to provide a report and recommendations to the President and public comment was gathered starting in May until a July 10th deadline.
- On May 5, 2017, the Interior Department released a list of 27 National Monuments that fell under the criteria for the review, including Nevada’s Basin and Range and Gold Butte National Monument.
- On May 19th 2017, Senator Heller signed a letter ‘applauding’ President Trump’s monuments review process.
- By the deadline established for Public Comment, July 10, 2017, over 2.5 million Americans submitted comments and over 80,000 Nevadans did the same. Analysis of the comments, including the review conducted by the Department of Interior, found that a vast majority of these comments, especially those from Nevada were in strong support of protecting Basin and Range and Gold Butte as they were designated.
- On August 24th, 2017 Secretary of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke released his report and recommendations to the White House. However, the public release only included a report detailing review history and process. The Department, Secretary, and White House refused to release recommendations on what to do with specific monuments. Aside from a comment online that recommendations were made to change a “handful” of monuments, the public was left in the dark about what would be changed and where.
- On September 17th, 2017, the report submitted to the White House leaked to the public. While not discussing specifics the report recommended reducing the size Nevada’s Gold Butte National Monument despite strong support from Nevadans for its protection.
- On September 18th, 2017, Nevada U.S. Senator Dean Heller in a statement praised the report and recommendations, taking credit for shaping its contents admitting he had been working against the will of Nevadans who overwhelmingly advocate for Gold Butte and Basin and Range’s protection.