03.26.15

Daines Calls for Local Support in Monument Designations, Refutes Democrat Leader Reid’s Remarks

Protecting the voice of the people should not offend members of this body— it should be our abiding commitment – it should be our priority.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Daines today took to the Senate floor to reaffirm the need for local support in monument designations, refuting Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s recent misleading remarks on Daines’ efforts.

Earlier this morning, Minority Leader Harry Reid spoke on the Senate floor in opposition to a Daines amendment that would work to ensure local and state support for all future  National Monument designations.

The Senator from Nevada is saying that Washington, D.C. should have more influence over local land use decisions than the folks in western states who live and work on this land every day. I disagree – I believe that the farmers, the ranchers, the sportsmen, community members, and the state and local government should have a say in local land decisions,” Daines stated.  “Protecting the voice of the people should not offend members of this body— it should be our abiding commitment – it should be our priority.”

Daines’ Amendment No. 388 to the Budget Resolution, S.Con.Res 11 establishes a deficit-neutral reserve fund to ensure states’ and local governments’ support of all new National Monument designations under the Antiquities Act.

Key excerpts from Daines’ remarks are below:

Before major land management decisions are made by the federal government, the people affected most by these designations should have a seat at the table and have their voices are heard.

So I was confused when I heard the Senior Senator from Nevada claiming this morning that my amendment would in some way gut or repeal a law providing the ability for National Monument designations to take place.

That’s simply false. 

In sharp contrast, it is designed to strengthen the law by ensuring that the voice of the people is heard as designations are considered.

After all it’s “the people” that are affected by these decisions – not politicians in Washington.

But there’s a difference between targeted designations to protect historic landmarks and designating hundreds of thousands – or even millions—of acres, against the will of the states and local residents.

The Senator from Nevada is saying that Washington, D.C. should have more influence over local land use decisions than the folks in western states who live and work on this land every day.

I disagree – I believe that the farmers, the ranchers, the sportsmen, community members, and the state and local government should have a say in local land decisions.

I would remind him that the 1906 Act was designed to prevent damage to specific sites of historical, scientific, or cultural significance – as the law states, “The smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of objects to be protected.”

The law was not intended to block out access or damage operations of nearby landowners.

Let me remind the Senator from Nevada of the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument designation. Local residents opposed that designation.

Since the monument was designated in 1996, there’s been a reduction in grazing. Development of a large coal mine has stopped. Local rural communities are struggling.

And during President Obama’s first term, an internal document surfaced from the Interior Department revealing the Obama Administration’s plans use the Antiquities Act to designate fourteen new national monuments, comprising millions of acres across our country.

One of the areas on the list is 2.5 million acres of land across northern Montana connecting Canada’s Grasslands National Park to the Bitter Creek Wilderness Study Area.

So why would anyone oppose elevating state and local input in these designations?

Despite the claims made by the Senator from Nevada, my amendment will not repeal the Antiquities Act nor gut the law.

It will not repeal existing protections on our National Parks and National Monuments. It will not prevent future designations from being made.

My amendment simply ensures that local residents and states have a meaningful voice in determining monument designations.

My amendment simply holds this and future administrations accountable to what they said they would do. And, protects the voice of the people in decisions like this.

Protecting the voice of the people should not offend members of this body— it should be our abiding commitment – it should be our priority.

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