Rob Bishop’s ‘No New Parks’ Bill
Background: On Wednesday, Rep. Rob Bishop, Chairman of the House Natural Resources
A Radical Vision: This is the most aggressive legislative attack on the Antiquities Act we
have seen. It goes hand in hand with the Trump Administration’s ongoing attempt to sell
out national monuments to the highest bidder.
This is a no new parks bill, plain and simple. It will undermine the conservation legacy of 16 presidents - both Republican and Democrat - to protect America's cultural and natural heritage. This attack on America's most spectacular lands and waters will not proceed without a fight.
This bill is even more radical that all of the past failed attempts to gut the Antiquities Act advanced by Rep. Bishop and other members of the anti-parks caucus. Americans love their public lands, and this bill deserves a similarly resounding defeat.
The bill would block presidents from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish new national monuments by:
Drastically narrowing the definition of what is deserving of protection to focus on fossils, skeletons, artifacts and buildings (ruling out considerations for science, geography, wildlife and other natural objects);
Putting arbitrary acreage caps on the size of monuments;
Prohibiting national monuments to protect oceans;
Giving Presidents the authority to erase vast portions of existing national monuments (an authority the President does not currently have); and
Forcing the local communities and federal workers to engage in an ironic exercise of wasted time and money to reviewing the environmental impacts of protecting lands for future generations.
If Bishop’s vision for the Antiquities Act had been applied since the law was signed in 1906, many of the national parks and monuments we enjoy today would not exist.
The Antiquities Act is responsible for nearly 50 percent of all national parks in the United States, many of which would never have been set aside under this bill.
Teddy Roosevelt could not have designated the Grand Canyon, Devil’s Tower, or Muir Woods.
National parks like Acadia, Grand Teton, Arches and Olympic would likely not have been protected - leaving them open to damaging development.
Upper Missouri River Breaks in Montana, a national monument affirmed by Secretary Zinke, would be left unprotected as well.
Table for One? Bishop’s bill is not only out of step with what Americans want, but it also
undermines the recommendations in Secretary Zinke’s leaked report on national
As the Trump Administration’s national monuments review has demonstrated, Americans overwhelmingly oppose attacks on national parks, public lands and waters.
More than 2.8 million people weighed in during the Interior Department 60-day comment period - a record-breaking response. More than 99% of all comments received expressed support for maintaining/expanding national monuments.
If Congress moves forward with this legislation, it will be ignoring the vast majority of Americans who want to see their public lands and waters protected for future generations.
Importantly, Bishop’s bill makes clear that the President does not currently have the authority to reduce existing national monument boundaries (a view in line with leading public lands legal experts).
The bill undercuts Zinke’s recommendations that suggest the President can, for example, use his authority to essentially wipe Bears Ears off the map.
Bishop’s legislation also strays from the Trump Administration’s agenda by making illegal Zinke’s suggestions that places like Badger Two Medicine or Camp Nelson are deserving of protection.
By ignoring the importance of protecting wildlife habitat, Bishop’s bill is inherently anti-sportsmen and at odds with Sec. Zinke’s claims that he supports hunting and fishing on public lands.
This represents a de facto “No New Parks” policy.
Over the past several years, Congress has an abysmal track record of passing legislation to protect new public lands:
Congressional deadlock has brought public lands legislation to a halt. After the Omnibus Public Land Management Act in 2009, it took five years before another public lands designation was passed - the longest period of congressional inaction on Wilderness protection in nearly 50 years. Only a handful of public lands bills have reached the President’s desk since then.
Despite dozens of conservation proposals before Congress – many supported by Democrats and Republicans – Congress has been unable to pass legislation that would protect important lands across the country and help grow our economy.
Coupled with Congress’s inaction, Bishop’s radical bill becomes an endorsement of a de facto “no more national parks” policy in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Not satisfied with blocking all new conservation legislation in his own committee, Bishop wants to extend this blockade to the executive branch by ending the over a century of progress on national monument designations.