NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


March 4, 2010

An unofficial memo from the White House has revealed plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, halting job creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development.  This land grab would dry up tax revenue that is essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers, says Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.). 

The 21-page document marked "Internal Draft-NOT FOR RELEASE," names 14 different lands President Obama could completely close for development by unilaterally designating them as "monuments" under the 1906 Antiquities Act.  Rep. Robert Bishop (R-Utah) made the memo public because he did not want another unilateral land grab by the White House, like what happened under former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, says DeMint: 

  • Using the Antiquities Act, President Carter locked up more land than any other president had before him, taking more than 50 million acres in Alaska despite strong opposition from the state.
  • President Clinton used the authority 22 times to prohibit hunting, recreational vehicles, mining, forestry and even grazing in 5.9 million acres scattered around the country (the law allowed him to single-handedly create 19 new national monuments and expand three others without consulting anyone).
  • In Nevada, the Obama Administration might make another monument in the Heart of the Great Basin because it supposedly is a "center of climate change scientific research."
  • In Colorado, the government is considering designating the Vermillion Basin as a monument because it is "currently under the threat of oil and gas development."  

The government currently owns 650 million acres, or 29 percent of the nation's total land.  Federal bureaucrats should not be wasting time thinking up ways to acquire more, especially in the middle of a recession, says DeMint. 

Taking the nation's resources offline will stifle job creation and dry up tax revenues.  If anything, the government should be selling land off, not locking more up, says DeMint. 

Source: Jim DeMint, "White House Land Grab," Washington Times, March 2, 2010. 

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