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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Institute Experts React to Trump Rolling Back Federal Land Grab in Utah

December 6, 2017

“The drive to take U.S. lands out of the hands of the American people has continued at breakneck speed for more than four decades” - Jay Lehr



Yesterday, President Donald Trump spoke in Utah about reducing the size of two national monuments on federal lands in Utah. The Bears Ears Monument will be cut from 1.5 million acres to 220,000 acres, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument will be cut from two million acres to one million acres.

The following statements from energy and environment experts at The Heartland Institute – an independent think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“With this exciting action, President Donald Trump accomplishes three critical goals. First, Trump keeps his campaign promise, which is unusual for the rest of Washington, DC. Second, he protects private property rights. Third, Trump reduces Washington’s encroachment on Western states.”

Tim Huelskamp, Ph.D.
President, The Heartland Institute

Dr. Huelskamp represented Kansas’ 1st District in the House of Representatives from 2011 to 2017.

“The drive to take U.S. lands out of the hands of the American people has continued at breakneck speed for more than four decades. The idea of keeping lands for the public has always been a false premise, and these lands have never contributed to the nation’s tax base, thus their maintenance has increased taxation on the public.

“Creating public lands is, at least partially, an absurd plot hatched by ‘green’ environmental zealots looking to drive as many people as possible into cities, where they can more easily be controlled by government.

“The rollback of federally protected lands is far more important than the average citizen will likely understand, but everyone will benefit when it comes about.”

Jay Lehr, Ph.D.
Science Director
The Heartland Institute

“President Trump’s decision is a good first start to repairing the overreach and gross abuse of power previous presidents have exercised in declaring huge swaths of public land off-limits to normal multiple uses, harming the whole nation and nearby residents in the process. And what’s the purpose of these federal confiscations? Satisfying radical environmental constituencies and burnishing their environmental legacies.

“Still, one hopes this is only a start. Secretary of Interior Zinke examined 27 monuments for alteration. While I would argue most of them merit a sharp reduction in size, press leaks indicate he has recommended alterations to at least 10 monuments, shrinking at least four others, and altering the management of four more, to allow certain economically beneficial uses. I hope President Trump ultimately approves each of Ryan Zinke’s recommendations.

“Further, the recent abuse of the Antiquities Act shows it’s long past time to repeal it. Congress should pass a law to ensure monuments are only declared in states in which a majority of the state lawmakers, the state’s governor, and county governments desire a monument to be declared. Congress should also have to sign off on each new monument as well. Washington, DC shouldn’t be allowed to dictate land management policy to the states and thereby foreclosing economic opportunities to local residents.”

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.
Research Fellow, Environment & Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Environment & Climate News

“There is winning, and then there is Winning!

“For Utah and the other Western states, President Trump’s rollback of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments is a significant victory for federalism. When President Trump signed an executive order in April directing Secretary Ryan Zinke to review national monuments created since January 1, 1996, under the Antiquities Act, the president said, ‘The Antiquities Act does not give the federal government unlimited power to lock up millions of acres of land and water, and it’s time that we ended this abusive practice.’

“Secretary Zinke’s recommendations to significantly reduce the size of several national monument areas and revise the federal management practices for several other monuments are a breath of fresh air. The Antiquities Act states that size of a national monument ‘shall be confined to the smallest area compatible with proper care and management of the objects to be protected,’ but past administrations have rarely complied with this part of the law.

“Secretary Zinke’s review properly concluded the creation of the 1.35-million-acre Bears Ears National Monument and the 1.9-million-acre Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument was an abusive overreach of the federal government’s power, one that cannot be defended by federal law or common sense.

“Secretary Zinke’s recommendations and President Trump’s action show the Western states are no longer the federal government’s playground. Prudent and effective preservation of national treasures can and should be accomplished, but only while maintaining proper respect for private property rights and state sovereignty.”

Bette Grande
Research Fellow, Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute

Ms. Grande represented the 41st District in the North Dakota Legislature from 1996 to 2014.

“I traveled through a fair amount of Utah’s lands in 2014, including the Grand Escalante region, which Bill Clinton had set aside in the 1990s as a national monument. The Grand Escalante region is beautiful, but Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, and Capitol Reef National Parks are even more beautiful.

“The State of Utah knows best how to handle its own territory. Clinton’s actions were an overreach, and the Trump administration is doing the right thing by reversing them.”

Tom Sheahen, Ph.D.
Physicist and Energy Expert
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

“Congratulations to President Trump for overthrowing President Obama’s attempts to stop coal, oil, and natural gas development on federal lands by designating them as federally protected lands. This is analogous to President Trump’s rescission of President Obama’s EPA regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, which were designed to stop the use of fossil fuels by calling life-giving carbon dioxide a ‘pollutant.’

“In terms of energy, the United States is the most blessed nation on the planet, with more than one-third of the world’s coal, oil, and natural gas and one million square miles of good farmland contained within its borders. The United States has the most talented and productive workers in the world, who can develop these resources and make us the wealthiest and dominant nation on the planet – if government policies imposed by previous administrations don’t continue to thwart these efforts.

“President Trump’s policies are making America great again, which is shown by record-setting stock market increases, the lowest national unemployment rate in 17 years, and 3 percent national economic growth.”

James H. Rust
Professor of Nuclear Engineering (ret.), Georgia Tech University
Policy Advisor, Energy & Environment
The Heartland Institute

“These monuments are different than the others in one vital respect: They were created by Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama despite the objections of the people and lawmakers who live in and around the monuments, not in response to local support. They were an unquestionable abuse of power when they were designated, and the administration is right to reverse course now.”

Greg E. Walcher
President, Natural Resources Group
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

Article Tags
Tim Huelskamp served as president of The Heartland Institute from 2017 to 2019.
Jay Lehr is an internationally renowned speaker, scientist, Senior Policy Advisor with the International Climate Science Coalition and Senior Science Analyst at CFACT.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D., is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.
Bette Grande is a research fellow for energy and pension issues at The Heartland Institute. Prior to coming to Heartland, she served as a North Dakota state representative from 1996–2014, representing the 41st district. @BetteGrande
[Read Sheahen's c.v.]Dr. Thomas P. Sheahen is vice president of the Science and Environment Policy Project (SEPP), Director of the Institute for Theological Encounter with Science and Technology (ITEST), and president/CEO of Western Technology, Inc.
Professor of Nuclear Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology (ret.), Climate Change and Energy
Greg Walcher is one of the most recognized and respected national leaders in natural resources policy.

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