01.06.17

Daines Introduces Bill to Reform Monument Designation Process

U.S. SENATE —U.S. Senator Steve Daines today helped introduce the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act, a bill to facilitate greater local input and require state approval before national monuments can be designated on federal lands and waters.

The bill requires, before any national monument can be declared on public land or within the exclusive economic zone, that the following be met:

  • Specific authorization by an Act of Congress;
  • Approval by the state legislature, and for marine monuments, approval by each state legislature within 100 miles of the proposed monument; and
  • Certification of compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act. 

“As a fifth generation Montanan and avid sportsman, I know how important it is for Montanans to play a strong role in the management of these precious parts of our state,” Daines said. “Any designation should be driven locally, not by out-of-state Washington, D.C. bureaucrats. I look forward to working with the Committee on improving the bill in strengthening local government input or approval in monument designations.”

Bryan Mussard, Montana Stockgrowers Association President: “The Montana Stockgrowers Association thanks Senator Daines for his strong support of the Improved National Monument Designation Process Act. Requiring public input and approval from both the state legislature and Congress will help reduce federal overreach and prevent land from being designated without sufficient state and local input. MSGA thanks Senator Daines for his continued efforts to work on behalf of Montana ranchers in the Senate.”

Ben Erickson, Executive Board, Citizens for Balanced Use: “The National Monument Designation process is broken and I’m pleased that Senator Daines is taking action to encourage more local engagement when it comes to Monument designation decisions. Executive branch overreach without Congressional oversight continues to cause tremendous harm to farming and rural communities throughout Montana and requiring more consultation with affected stakeholders and State governments will help rectify the challenges these families and communities face." 

Austin Knudsen, Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives: “As an eastern Montanan, I know first hand the dangers of unchecked federal overreach and the impacts unilateral designations have on ranching, families, and rural communities. It's critical that future designations receive robust support from the states in which potential monuments reside, and are conducted in a public process. I am grateful for Senator Daines’ commitment to include more voices into the National Monument selection process, and, as Speaker of the Montana House of Representatives, would welcome this needed change.”

The Antiquities Act provides the President with authority to create national monuments, but explicitly requires presidents to reserve “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” This has not been the case with designations in recent years, however, as the Antiquities Act has become a tool to sidestep Congress and create sweeping conservation areas despite opposition from local residents. The Obama administration alone has now designated a total of 554 million acres—equal to 865,625 square miles, an area five times the size of California—onshore and offshore as national monuments. 

Daines has long worked to protect Montana from administrative abuses of the Antiquities Act. In September, Daines introduced the Local Community and Sportsmen Input in Monuments Act, which ensures that Montanans voices are heard in any monument designations.

Daines introduced an amendment to S.1, legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, that would express the sense of Congress that all future national monument designations should be subject to consultation with local governance and the approval of the Governor and legislature of states in which designation would occur. He also introduced an amendment to S.Con.Res 11 to establish a deficit-neutral reserve fund to ensure states and local governments voices are heard in all new national monument designations under the Antiquities Act.

In the House, Daines introduced the Montana Land Sovereignty Act to prohibit the establishment of new national monuments in Montana without Congressional review and approval. Daines also supported the Ensuring Public Involvement in the Creation of National Monuments Act, which requires that the President secure public participation and local support before any new monuments are declared.

The bill is sponsored by U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowksi (R-AK), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), John Barrasso (R-WY), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dean Heller (R-NV), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), John McCain (R-AZ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Marco Rubio (R- FL), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Roger Wicker (R-MS).