Designation of National Monuments - Natural Resources Committee - Full Committee Markup
Representative McClintock delivered the following remarks today in the House Natural Resources Committee on House Resolution 1254. The resolution directs the Secretary of the Interior to transmit to the House of Representatives specific information relating to potential National Monuments designations.
Full Committee Markup – Natural Resources Committee
May 5, 2010
I speak in support of this resolution with an urgency bordering on desperation for the people of Modoc and Lassen counties in my Congressional district who are directly in the path of the proposal to close some 3 million acres of the Modoc Plateau as a National Monument under the Antiquities Act of 1906.
I want the committee and the administration to understand something. These folks have already been devastated by federal land use restrictions. This region is one of the most timber-rich and mineral-rich areas of the United States, and yet federal restrictions have left it economically prostrate: Modoc County currently suffers an 18.2 percent unemployment rate and Lassen County 16.7 percent.
National Monument status could close the Modoc Plateau to future mineral exploration, timber development, or even grazing, and local communities could face still more job losses and reduced tax revenues. This is one of the most rural areas of my district; they are suffering from a shrinking tax base because the state and federal governments already control over 60% of the land. An expansion of land use restrictions will only further stifle an already struggling economy.
The preservation of public land is not an end in itself – it is a means to an end: the public good. And the public good is not served by the mindless closure of vast tracts of land at the expense of the sustainable use of our natural resources, responsible stewardship of our public lands, and the freedom and property rights of our citizens. Monument designation authority was created by the Antiquities Act of 1906 as an emergency power to protect small archeological areas from looting.
The use of this authority to place off-limits some three million acres of land just for the hell of it is a gross abuse of power by this administration and has devastating consequences to the people and the economy of my district.
Our current administration is now planning to further restrict land use and they are ignoring our requests for information.
This should be a public process with public comment, especially if, as the Chairman has just stated, this is just the formative phase of an unprecedented initiative using the very limited and very specific Antiquities Act.
President Obama issued a statement in support of “Sunshine Week” on March 16, 2010 and said: “I want to applaud everyone who has worked to increase transparency in government and recommit my administration to be the most open and transparent ever, an effort that will strengthen our democracy and ensure the public’s trust in their government.”
It is obvious that President Obama is not holding Secretary Salazar to this standard, which is not acceptable to me or my constituents and should not be tolerated by any Member of Congress.
I urge the Chairman to reconsider his opposition to the resolution and to take a stand on behalf of transparency, candor, and a lot of folks in regions like Modoc and Lassen who are struggling not only against both a severe recession AND needless restrictions heaped on them by their own government.