Washington, D.C. – Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) and 25 House Democratic cosponsors are using a House resolution (H.Res. 555) to force the Trump administration to be more transparent about its review of national monuments. The Democrats introduced the resolution of inquiry (ROI) today, a House resolution that requires the administration to provide Congress a final version of the secret monuments report and all supporting documents related to the executive order President Trump issued in April. House Democrats believe the American people deserve a full report, as well as an explanation as to what Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has recommended and why.
The ROI is in response to the Administration’s refusal to deliver on the promise of an “open review process” by not providing more information about Secretary Zinke’s agenda, analysis, and full scope of findings from his national monument tours and meetings.
The following is a timeline of key dates in Secretary Zinke’s monument review process:
· April 26 – President Trump issued an executive order of 27 national monuments designated under the Antiquities Act.
· April to August– Secretary Zinke toured several of the listed monuments, including Bears Ears National Monument, but failed to provide a detailed agenda of his tours.
· May 25 – Ranking Member Grijalva, along with 85 House Democrats, sent a letter to Secretary Zinke reminding him that Congress – not Trump – controls the future of our monuments.
· June 13 – Ranking Member Grijalva sent a letter to Secretary Zinke asking for information about the public documents on the administration’s “review” of national monuments.
· June 12 – Secretary Zinke submitted an interim report to the White House with recommendations for Bears Ears National Monument and other monuments.
· July 10 – The 60-day public comment period closed. More than 2.5 million responses were submitted and revealed that a large majority of Americans are supportive of maintaining or expanding current national monument boundaries.
· July 18 – Ranking Member Grijalva signed a letter with a group of his House and Senate colleagues pushing back against Trump's consideration of rolling back 11 marine national monuments.
· August 22 – Ranking Member Grijalva released a report documenting industry influence in Secretary Zinke’s monuments review.
· August 24 – Secretary Zinke recommended reducing the size of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, and Oregon’s Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.
· September 17 – Secretary Zinke recommended that the White House modify 10 national monuments.
· October 4 – Democrats on the Committee introduced a ROI on Secretary Zinke’s monument review, a House resolution that requires the administration to be transparent.
If the House Natural Resources Committee fails to consider H.Res. 555 within 14 legislative days, House rules provide for a privileged motion to discharge the Committee and consider the resolution on the House floor.
“The Trump administration wants to wipe out our national monuments without an explanation or plan,” said Ranking Member Grijalva. “The truth is that Secretary Zinke is choosing to appease his special interest friends instead of listening to the American people, and the ROI will prove just that. The American people rely on our national monuments to provide a place for families to enjoy the outdoors and they drive economic growth for local businesses owners that count on the tourism industry. Too many hard-working people’s livelihoods depend on Secretary Zinke’s decision so we won’t stop fighting until we get answers.”
"Our public lands and national monuments are part of America's birthright that veterans have fought to protect and they have provided a healing space for returning veterans of all generations,” said General Paul Eaton of Vet Voice Foundation. “We were dismayed by the lack of transparency and lack of attention to fact that the Department of the Interior showed in the recently leaked recommendations to undermine our national monuments. The Interior Department owes it to the American people to respond fully to this Resolution of Inquiry with honesty."
"Despite Secretary Zinke's professed commitment to transparency - and the broad public interest in the process - the Department of the Interior has conducted its review largely in a black box,” said Sharon Buccino, Director of NRDC's Land and Wildlife Program. “The administration has not explained what sources of information it used to inform its review of our national monuments or identified the stakeholders it consulted in reaching its conclusions. The American people deserve an honest account of how Secretary Zinke conducted the review. Anything less would be a slap in the face of the millions of Americans who spoke up for our public lands and waters during the process."
"We have a moral obligation to protect our outdoor heritage, to protect these places and preserve them as a legacy for future generations, said Maite Arce, President and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation.
“Reducing protections of any national monuments -- many of which were established to represent or celebrate our nation's diverse cultural history -- leads to the destruction of Native American archaeological sites, lost access for hunting, fishing and recreation opportunities and economic harm for local communities. These monuments weren't created on a presidential whim -- these were the result of local, diverse stakeholders spending several years building support and consensus in their communities. We deserve to know how these recommendations were made."
“More than a month after the end of the Trump administration’s unprecedented review of national monuments, local communities that depend on their national monuments to drive business and protect our national treasures still have no answers on what may become of them,” Dan Hartinger, Deputy Director of TWS’s Parks & Public Lands Defense said. “Even more alarming, the Administration continues to play fast and loose with the rules as the leaked report includes likely illegal actions and is full of basic factual errors. We second the call to make public the documentation that went into drafting this alarming report to shed light on how the Secretary arrived at his dangerous recommendations to sell out some of our greatest natural, cultural and historic wonders to mining, drilling and logging interests.”
“We need answers. National parks and monuments are symbols of our country and reflect our commitment to saving these amazing pieces of our natural and cultural heritage for future generations,” said Kristen Brengel, Vice President of Government Affairs at the National Parks Conservation Association. “To tear apart those protections is to betray that commitment, and if the administration is bent on doing so, the American people deserve to know why.”