Trump slashes national monuments in Utah: “I’m a real estate developer”
Gabriel Black and Daniel de Vries
7 December 2017
On Monday, President Trump announced that he would reduce the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah by 85 percent and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument by half. The move strips away protections for 3 million acres of federal land in an area eyed by industry for rich deposits of fossil fuels and uranium.
The gutting of the national monuments, unprecedented in more than a century, amounts to the initial stages of a land-grab by the oil, gas and mining industries. Alongside these two redesignations, the Trump administration has moved to open up federal lands to expanded drilling and mining operations. In March, the president directed agencies through an executive order to “alleviate or eliminate… actions that burden domestic energy production.” Since then the administration has initiated the repeal of more than two dozen regulations directly impacting energy and mining companies.
Trump is seeking nothing less than to eviscerate the entire framework of land conservation controls and environmental protections, which at times have limited mining and drilling operations and imposed cost on industry in order to mitigate public health and the environmental impacts.
Trump is also attempting to intimidate and suppress Native American groups, which, despite some divisions, were instrumental in urging the establishment of the national monuments last year. Tribal lands have come under acute threat from the rapid expansion of domestic drilling and transportation under the Obama administration. The past few years have witnessed bitter resistance struggles of Native Americans and others against the threat of environmental…