Trump Exec. Order Reviews Unconstitutional Federal Land Grabs

P. Gardner Goldsmith | May 1, 2017
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On Wednesday, April 26, President Trump issued a first-of-its-kind executive order that could rescind 30 “National Monument” designations going back twenty years. In doing so, he issued a blow for constitutionalism and states' prerogatives, cast a needed critical eye at the unconstitutional 1906 Antiquities Act, and shocked leftists into fits of hyperbole on their mainstream media platforms.

The President's executive order requires Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the “National Monument” designations going back to former President Bill Clinton’s egregious and politically connected 1996 creation of the Grand Escalante Staircase National Monument in Utah. The Grand Escalante action was a move that seized millions of acres of land in the state, threw thousands out of work, and closed off one of the world’s richest sources of anthracite, the cleanest burning coal known, leaving Clinton’s associates at the Lippo Group in Indonesia with the biggest stake of anthracite outside the U.S. and capping off a long series of corrupt, illegal political actions tied to Lippo head James Riady, functionary John Huang, fundraiser Johnny Chung, and the DNC, for which Riady pled guilty to 86 counts and was fined $8.6 million by the feds.

Clinton used the Antiquities Act thirteen times in his two terms, and now, with additional actions taken by Bush and Obama, over 32 million acres have been designated “Conservation Lands” by federal executive order -- over and above the more than 640 million acres the Feds unconstitutionally control in the U.S.

People in Utah were irate over Clinton’s actions, but have had to wait twenty years for any redress. And as they have waited, even more Americans have witnessed shocking land grabs by the feds.

The most recent, and most controversial, was the eleventh hour, December 2016 executive order by President Obama designating the “Bears Ears” area in Utah, an issue on which MRCTV reported in August of last year. Throwing 1.3 million acres more of Utah under “National Monument” status, the move led many to ask Trump to review the blatant power grab. 

As Timothy Cama writes for The Hill:

"…opponents of Bears Ears are cheering Trump’s order. Utah’s statewide leaders are united in their opposition to the monument, and the legislature has passed a resolution asking that Trump to take some sort of action."

Valerie Volcovici writing for Reuters notes:

"In announcing the order on Wednesday Republican Trump said Obama's use of the 1906 Antiquities Act to create monuments was an 'egregious abuse of federal power' that allowed the federal government to "lock up" millions of acres of land and water."

He is absolutely correct.

Ethically and practically, why should politicians in New Hampshire and Hawaii tell citizens of Utah or Alaska how to manage lands that, in all likelihood, most residents of their respective states will never visit? And vice-versa, why not allow people with better local knowledge of their areas and needs to decide what is best for them, rather than smothering local choices and prerogatives with a blanket of warmed-over, fuzzy-minded, land-management nationalism that tends to lead to a poor job at managing the lands in the first place?

Residents of Utah and other states have complained over and over about the fires on poorly managed U.S. lands that have ended up damaging private land. Private property owners have real incentives and liabilities to husband their resources but the U.S. government does not, and so brush is not removed, access areas are not managed properly, and when fires start, they rage far worse than fires that might occur on private property.

But don’t offer this information to members of the pop media glitterati. A quick Google search for Trump’s executive order turns up a mantra of headlines so slanted in favor of federal control that one wonders if these are news agencies or editorialists. Here is a starter pack:

The Verge tells us: “Trump Signs Executive Order That Threatens National Monuments.”

CNN cries: “Trump Executive Order Could Roll Back Public Lands Protections from 3 Presidents.”

And Kobini writes: “Donald Trump Signs Executive Order Threatening 24 National Monuments.”

And what is interesting is that, under Google’s new “Truth” paradigm, these headlines pop up at the top of the page -- a real incentive to start Googling for an alternative to Google.

The common thread of doom and despair over Trump’s “attack on our land” is topped only by the ignorance at the heart of the reporting, that being that the 1906 Antiquities Act which grants the President a power he and Congress do not constitutionally have.

Take a look at this example, from Volcovici’s Reuter’s piece:

"The Antiquities Act gives a president the authority to create national monuments from federal lands to protect significant natural, cultural, or scientific features."


According to the Constitution, the feds have control over only Washington, D.C., territories, and military garrisons. That’s it. And when territories become states, they are not supposed to cede land to the feds for “national parks” or “monuments” or playgrounds, or anything. They enter with the “full rights and privileges of any state”. The Antiquities Act is a direct attack on the Constitutional rules, and has been used not only to grab lands and control states through federal budgetary grants, but also to play cozy with politically connected special interests like Riady’s Lippo and Dianne Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blume.

If people truly value the land in its undeveloped state, why not allow the folks who are in proximity of that land to decide how to handle it?

Trump’s action starts opening the door to this possibility.

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