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Lee, Romney try again to block presidents from creating national monuments in Utah

By Dennis Romboy, KSL | Posted - Jan 11th, 2019 @ 6:52am

SALT LAKE CITY — Sen. Mike Lee is taking another crack at prohibiting presidents from creating or expanding a national monument in Utah without approval from Congress and the state Legislature.

Lee, R-Utah, along with newly sworn Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, reintroduced legislation Thursday that would exempt Utah from the Antiquities Act. Lee said the legislation would protect the state from "abuses" in much the same way Alaska and Wyoming are currently protected.

Lee and Romney say the Protect Utah’s Rural Economy Act would give local communities a voice in public lands management.

President Bill Clinton used the 1906 law to create the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and President Barack Obama used it designate Bears Ears National Monument.

President Donald Trump issued an order in 2017 slashing the acreage in both monuments. His action is being challenged in court.

Lee first introduced the bill last July, but it didn't go anywhere in the previous Congress.

The Sierra Club's Utah chapter last year called the measure "incredibly shortsighted” and a "baseless attack" on the Antiquities Act that would undermine future public lands policy in the state.

The group wants to see the laws regarding Wyoming and Alaska reversed, arguing those situations involved massive amounts of federal land and were much different than the one in Utah.

Last month, Lee killed a public lands package widely supported by local Republicans after his attempt to include an exemption for Utah from any new monument designations under the Antiquities Act failed.

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