UTAH

Utah leaders sue Biden administration over national monuments

Aug 24, 2022, 2:39 PM | Updated: 4:47 pm
Biden Bears Ears...
The Bears Ears in Utah's San Juan County, a 1.35 million acre region studded with tens of thousands of archaeological jewels spread across a landscape of stunning red-rock scenery. Photo credit: Mike DeBernardo, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah state leaders filed suit against the federal government over the Biden administration move that restored Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments. 

Attorney General Sean Reyes filed the lawsuit Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Utah. 

Controversy not new to national monuments

Former President Bill Clinton established Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in 1996; 20 years later, former President Barack Obama used similar executive power under the Antiquities Act to create Bears Ears National Monument. Former President Donald Trump visited Utah in 2017, using executive power once more to reduce the size of both national monuments, which President Joe Biden restored in 2021. 

All of those moves came with loud debate and consternation on multiple fronts. In 2017, environmental activists held a rally to protest President Trump’s decision to shrink the monuments. Similarly, in 2021, multiple Utah elected officials decried President Biden’s move undoing the action of President Trump. 

Lawsuit: Bears Ears, Grand Staircase too big for feds

Reyes, representing elected leaders including Gov. Spencer Cox, Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson, Senate President Stuart Adams, House Speaker Brad Wilson, and others, argues the monuments are much too large to be managed by the federal government. 

In a joint statement, they said their size “draws unmanageable visitation levels to these lands without providing any of the tools necessary to adequately conserve and protect these resources.” 

Reyes and others argue for a “congressional solution” rather than the use of executive power in land management. 

“We now challenge this repeated, abusive federal overreach to ensure that our public lands are adequately protected and that smart stewardship remains with the people closest to the land,” they wrote. 

Gov. Cox addressed the president’s executive action on his Twitter account. 

 

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Utah leaders sue Biden administration over national monuments