Utah sues Biden administration over restoration of 2 national monuments
(CN) — The state of Utah sued the Biden administration Wednesday over last year’s decision by the president to restore the original boundaries of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, two national monuments that had their protections slashed by former President Donald Trump.
The lawsuit is the latest in a fight between the Republican-led state government and the federal government over the creation of national monuments. Grand Staircase was created by President Bill Clinton in 1996, with Bears Ears created by President Barack Obama in 2016.
Governor Spencer Cox and Utah’s Republican delegation in a statement said the federal government failed to properly manage the monuments and cited the expanded boundaries as a reason for “unmanageable visitation levels.”
“We now challenge this repeated, abusive federal overreach to ensure that our public lands are adequately protected and that smart stewardship remains with the people closest to the land," said the delegation.
The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Utah, accuses Biden of violating the Antiquities Act, a 1906 law meant to protect important and cultural archeological sites. The Utah lawmakers claim the law was used to create new environmental protections, bypassing Congress to do so.
The lawmakers are asking a federal judge to remove the added protections. In 2017, former President Trump slashed the size of Bears Ears by almost 75% and Grand Staircase by almost half.