We have spent a bit of time on this blog hashing out the goods and bads of Presidential national monuments establishment under the Antiquities Act, and particularly subsequent reductions enacted by a subsequent Administration. In the latest reduction-saga President Donald J. Trump substantially reduced Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments in a Utah.
Some of us, particularly environmentalists and Democrats, thought the recent reduction to be a gleeful move to “stick it to the out-group” by a President hell-bent on undoing anything and everything done by the previous Obama Administration. In this case three added benefits would accrue to the reduction move: sticking it to the Clinton Administration, supporting “the base” by claiming benefits to energy-related resource extractive industries, and showing solidarity with the bright Red (Republican) Utah Delegation. It was no secret that the Utah Delegation had been courting the Trump Administration to reduce or eliminate at least these two National Monuments—stressing that the Monuments were established by midnight political attacks, or stunts, by outgoing Democratic Presidents only to score points with their base.
Recently, another shoe just dropped in the ongoing debacle over Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. The Salt Lake Tribune notes, 3/9/2018:
…As one of the harshest critics of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase, [Utah State Rep. Mike Noel, R] faced a backlash after a Montana-based conservation group published documents last month showing that Noel’s company owned land inside the original boundaries of Grand Staircase that was cut out by Trump’s proclamation.
He had not disclosed the land-owning company on his legislative conflict-of-interest form, at least not by the name registered with the state.
Western Values Project responded Friday to Noel’s reported retirement by asserting that there are “ongoing investigations” of him. “He must still be held accountable for his actions,” the group said, “even if he is no longer willing to face the public as a legislator.” …