NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arizona May Get An Unwanted National Monument

May 4, 1999

President Clinton may be preparing to go over the heads of elected U.S. representatives and local authorities in Arizona to create a 600,000-acre national monument there. If so, he will rely on a 1906 law -- known as the Antiquities Act -- which doesn't require input from anyone else.

He relied on the same justification during the 1996 presidential campaign to declare 1.7 million acres in Utah as the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument.

  • The act was written before federal land-use laws were enacted to give Congress and the public a voice in such matters.
  • According to speculation, he would now invoke it to declare the Arizona Shivwits Plateau/Parashant Canyon a national monument without local input.
  • The administration is using the 1872 Mining Law to prohibit new mining on the land for the next two years while studies are conducted.
  • Utah Republican Sen. Robert F. Bennett says that in his state's case, the "administration blatantly lied to the elected representatives of Utah claiming no decision had been made, while in fact they were engaged in heavy dialogue with unelected environmental groups drawing maps and going over alternatives."

Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and John Kyl have sent Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt a letter "emphatically" reaffirming their request that he desist "from taking any unilateral action to designate the... area."

Sen. Bennett charges that documents relating to the Utah monument designation contain a memo to Vice President Al Gore from Kathleen McGinty, chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality, stating environmentalists would spend $500,000 in the 1996 election and endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket if the monument were created.

Bennett says that plans for the monument were drawn up so hastily "that they literally ended up taking some people's front driveways and put it in the national monument."

The Arizona cite contains some state and private land holdings.

Source: Audrey Hudson, "Senators Fear New Clinton Land Grab," Washington Times, May 1, 1999.


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