Just last month, President Obama created the Bears Ears National Monument in southern Utah. This action was cause for celebration for conservationists and Native American groups; however, it has drawn intense criticism from many Utah lawmakers who want Obama’s designation undone.
According to a new report from Buzzfeed, it appears that the Utah politicians who are against the monument’s creation may be getting their way once President-elect Donald Trump takes office.
A spokesperson for Utah Senator Mike Lee told Buzzfeed that Lee has been talking to high-ranking members of Trump’s team about repealing the monument. Based on the conversations that Lee has had with Trump’s team, they are apparently “open to suggestions Trump could roll back Obama’s Bears Ears designation.”
Mike Lee has long been a vocal opponent of the monument, and he appears to be making good on the promise he made late last month via Twitter to “work tirelessly with Congress & incoming Trump administration to honor the will of Utahns and undo this monument designation.”
I will work tirelessly with Congress & incoming Trump administration to honor the will of Utahns and undo this monument designation. #utpol
— Mike Lee (@SenMikeLee) December 28, 2016
Lee is not alone in his criticism of President Obama’s designation, either. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch called it an “astonishing and egregious abuse of executive power,” and Rep. Jason Chaffetz said that Obama had administered “a slap in the face to the people of Utah, attempting to silence the voices of those who will bear the heavy burden it imposes.”
It’s not clear yet exactly how Trump could repeal the monument. However, Lee said ominously during a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday that “what can be done through unilateral executive action can also be undone the same way.”
President Obama created the Bears Ears Monument by appealing to the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gives the president the power to designate national monuments without Congressional approval. While the President was able to move forward with the monument’s designation, though, law experts have argued that Trump will have the power to undo Obama’s actions as soon as he is sworn in.
If Trump were to move forward and repeal the monument as Lee and others want him to, he would be the first president ever to undo one of his predecessor’s designations.
Watch Lee’s Senate speech about repealing the Bears Ears monument in the video below, available via YouTube:
Featured image via Leigh Vogel/Getty Images.