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National Monuments

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In the daily grind of Trump outrages and congressional Republicans rolling us back to the Gilded Age, I suppose the fate of public lands means less to most people than handing over classified intelligence to the Russians and stripping tens of millions of people of health insurance. But Trump ordering the Department of Interior to review all the big western monuments created by Clinton and Obama, with the likelihood of shrinking or eliminating them is not only outrageous, it’s an insult to a century of conservation legislation and the millions of people who have fought to preserve our natural legacy for the future. I don’t really know what is going to happen in the end. Conservation groups are going to put up one heck of a legal fight. There’s no precedent for repealing a national monument, although the boundaries of Olympic National Park changed repeatedly during its monument and early park days, and it’s not clear what legal standing exists for it. The Antiquities Act does not expressly give permission to eliminate national monuments. But for Trump and Republicans, national parks are just another part of the liberal legacy that needs dismantling. Making America Great Again means drilling for gas and oil in our most beautiful places, desecrating Native American archeological sites, cutting down the last old growth timber, and driving animals and plants to extinction, all while denying climate change exists. This is just one of hundreds of battles we have to fight at once. Like most of them, the fundamental problem is not Donald Trump, it’s the Republican Party. Whether our natural heritage will survive the New Gilded Age is far from assured.

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