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Sen. Lisa Murkowski has proposed a law requiring congressional approval of any new national monuments considered by the president.
The Improved National Monument Designation Process Act would block President Obama from using the Antiquities Act to place public land and water off limits to development.
Obama has done more than talk about creating new national monuments and expanding existing monuments. He expanded the boundaries of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument from 77,020 square miles to more than 782,000 square miles.
No one man should possess the power to make unilateral decisions like this. The states and the Americans living near proposed monuments should be given an opportunity to participate in the process of selecting this land and water for designation.
"My legislation is designed to ensure that our oceans are not locked away with a stroke of the president's pen," Murkowski says. "The continued foreclosure of our land and water threatens economic activities from fishing to exploration for oil and natural gas."
Murkowski's legislation would require congressional approval of national monument designations and application of the National Environmental Policy Act. It would take an act of Congress to establish a monument in an exclusive economic zone. It also would require approval by each state legislature within 100 miles of a proposed monument, and stakeholders would be allowed to participate in a mandatory review process before the federal government implemented any restrictions on public uses within the proposed monument.
States should have the right and the responsibility of reviewing proposals that affect economic development and jobs within their borders and jurisdiction. Monument designations have made it impossible to develop natural resources in states such as Alaska where they are the main means of development — in most cases renewable resources and sustainable development.
Murkowski's legislation will have to be approved by Congress, which, considering that the legislation calls for congressional approval of national monuments, should be possible.
President Obama might balk, but then Congress might have the votes to override his veto.
This legislation should be moved along rapidly. Executive fiats are known to come with no notice. This law needs to be put in place as soon as possible — for Obama and every other president.