Yesterday, President Trump returned much of the land that the Obama administration stole from the state of Utah under the Antiquities Act.
The Act, passed by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906, was originally designed to prevent looting of Indian artifacts from archeological sites. But since then, the Act has been abused and perverted in order to justify the federal government seizing land to turn into national monuments at will. This prevented the lands from ever being used by private citizens for other needs.
However, in his quest to roll back as many regulations as possible, Trump decided to set millions of acres of public land in Utah free from federal regulations.
Trump signed two executive orders to shrink two national monuments — Bears Ears by 85%, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante in half. These monuments were created originally by Presidents Obama and Clinton, respectively. The move followed a review conducted in April by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke on monument boundaries.
Both Senators from Utah, Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee, were very pleased with the move. Hatch praised it as Trump giving the people of Utah “a voice in the process.” Lee released a statement via Facebook.
Zinke stated yesterday that this move by the Trump administration is part of a larger picture of scaling back the government and overreach in general, saying, “We’re not taking one square inch of federal land and transferring it or selling it. It is still federal land, with all the protections of federal land." He added that the biggest change is that the government is “allowing greater use on the areas that were previously in the monument.”
Many Trump skeptics did not believe that he would be serious in rolling back the government or its regulations. This is understandable, as Trump, during his presidential campaign, praised universal health care and stated that he would not touch entitlements or welfare as president. We should be applauding this move by the administration, because even if the Republican Congress isn’t serious in scaling back government in any significant way, it seems that the president is.
Keep it up, Mr. President.