Obama Eyes Mojave For Desert Monument

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Re: Obama Eyes Mojave For Desert Monument

Postby Wildhorse » Fri Feb 12, 2016 10:26 pm

Climbant raises an interesting question. I believe that the adjacent Monuments and parks were created by acts of congress. Obama is attempting to go around the statutory process with an executive order. It is an aggressive move. He probably would have no chance legally to append these lands to monuments created by statute. I think he is hoping and believes his move will stick.
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Re: Obama Eyes Mojave For Desert Monument

Postby RichardK » Mon Feb 15, 2016 8:02 am

Wildhorse wrote:Obama is attempting to go around the statutory process with an executive order.


No, he is not. The statutory process is the 1906 Antiquities Act which grants all Presidents the ability to turn BLM land into National Monuments at will. Ronald Reagan added 578,581 acres, George H. W. Bush added 12,198,223 acres, and George W. Bush added 746,373 acres administratively. Until this latest addition, Obama trailed all of them with only 186,077 acres. Source = http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/0 ... ge-w-bush/
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Re: Obama Eyes Mojave For Desert Monument

Postby Wildhorse » Mon Feb 15, 2016 5:08 pm

Based on the statistics Richard K has cited, there is surely nothing extraordinary about Obama's conservation record, and that record would surely not be considered relatively aggressive. Personally, I would have been way more aggressive ecologically than Obama has been.

I recommend the account of this action offered in the New York Times to anyone who wants to understand how this came about.

Back to Climbant's question: After I wrote the above comment, I learned that president's do have the power to add other land to existing monuments and parks. Why Obama created three new monuments instead of adding this land to other monuments, I don't know. I presume a logical reason, but it would be interesting to know the reason.

Congress created the San Jacinto/Santa Rosa Monument. As I have been told by Tribe officials, the Tribe opposed the monument. They agreed to its creation on the condition that the now proposed land exchange would occur. Secretary Babbit agreed to the exchange in a private meeting, even while he knew he lacked the legal authority to make it happen. When the statute that created the monument was later enacted, it allowed the BLM to make an exchange, as long as the exchange benefited the public and otherwise conformed to laws. The controversy surrounding the exchange has happened because the BLM never offered a reason for the exchange the benefited the public and tried to push the exchange through quietly, hoping to avoid public attention. The Tribe would feel double crossed if the exchange does not happen. But the deal Babbit made with the Tribe in the 90's was not a legal binding deal, and so it suffered problems. My guess is that the BLM will approve the exchange anyway, pretending a public benefit. Even while Babbit may have made a good deal at the time, that deal does not qualify as a public benefit under laws governing land exchanges. I wonder why Clinton did not just create the monument, as Obama has done now.

In the case of the monuments that Obama has now created, it appears that Feinstein tried to create the monuments by statute first, but could not strike a deal with people who opposed their creation. She asked Obama to act because the creation by statute route was not going to work. That is the account given by the New York Times. Obama could have acted earlier, without bothering with Congress. Presumably he did not do that for political considerations. It is generally better for conservation sake, and political sake, to have local support. That is why Babbit came to Palm Springs in the 1990s and made his promise. He wanted to get the local support - the support of the Tribe.
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