Deb Haaland Proposes Moves To Cancel Trump Environmental Policy

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According to a new report from The Washington Post, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland has now recommended to President Joe Biden the full restoration of three national monuments that were each in some way undercut by ex-President Trump. The monuments include the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante protected areas in Utah and the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which includes vast stretches of the ocean off the coast of New England. Undertaking the move that Haaland recommended “would preserve about 5 million acres of federal land and water,” The Washington Post explains.

In December of 2017, then-President Trump shrunk the Bears Ears monument by a whopping total of nearly 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost half, removing large swathes of land from the level of federal protection that it had been under. More recently, then-President Trump enacted an allowance of commercial fishing within the Northwest Canyons and Seamounts location, which, as the Post explains, carried the net result of lifting the majority of the special protections that the area had previously enjoyed.

Ultimately, decisions on the sizes of these monuments rest with the president, and the Post says that, according to their sources, President Biden currently “favors” taking the steps that Haaland has recommended, although considerations of the matter are still underway. Although top officials at the White House and Interior Department did not comment on the matter when questioned by the Post, the publication says that “Justice Department lawyers confirmed in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia earlier this month that the Interior Department submitted its recommendations to the White House on June 2.” Previously, Biden has ordered the Interior Department to review the monuments.

Theresa Pierno, who serves as president and chief executive of the National Parks Conservation Association, told the Post as follows regarding Haaland’s reported recommendation:

‘These sites are sacred spaces that provide healing and sustain life. They preserve troves of ancient fossils and artifacts and hold centuries of human history. And they border some of our most iconic national park landscapes in the country.There’s no question that these treasured lands and waters deserve the utmost protections.’

Trump’s decisions to remove protections from these huge expanses of land and water in question have stood to majorly benefit commercial interests. Swordfish, for instance, are found in the waterways that are in dispute, while resources like oil and uranium are present within the Utah lands. Utah’s members of Congress — all of whom are Republicans — have called for legislation that formally establishes boundaries for the protected areas within their state, although with the filibuster rules in the 100-member Senate that demand the agreement of 60 Senators before moving forward, including to a final vote, on most legislation, getting legislation passed remains difficult.

Featured Image (edited): via AFGE on Flickr, available under a Creative Commons license