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Fight to reverse Trump’s shrinking of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

TWS et al. v. Donald Trump et al.
Case No.
1:17-cv-02587 (TSC)
Date Filed
December 4, 2017
State, Venue
District of Columbia, Utah, District of Columbia Federal District Court
Heidi McIntosh (Earthjustice), James Pew (Earthjustice), Yvonne Chi (Earthjustice)
Public Lands
Only hours after President Trump issued a proclamation to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Guardians, along with nine other conservation groups, filed suit to block the order. Trump’s mandate cuts nearly 900,000 acres from the monument in southern Utah, effectively slicing it in half. By removing protections from such a large portion of the monument, this iconic landscape is left open to coal mining and other development.

President Bill Clinton designated the monument in 1996 under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which allows a president to “declare by public proclamation historic landmarks.” We contend that President Trump exceeded the authority of the Antiquities Act, because the Act does not allow a succeeding president to strip that designation. Because President Trump was not delegated the authority to shrink a national monument, he also violated the Property Clause of the Constitution, which gives Congress sole authority to set the rules and regulations regarding public lands. Congress enacted the Antiquities Act to provide protections for the nation’s significant and diverse historic, cultural, and scientific heritage. The area comprising the original monument designation of almost two million acres hosts a wealth of archaeological and historical sites, critical habitat for a wide array of plant and animal species, and diverse recreational opportunities. President Trump’s reduction of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is illegal and a potentially immense loss for our nation.