DENVER — The BlueRibbon Coalition filed a lawsuit recently in an attempt to invalidate President Clinton's use of the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, along with four others.
The Antiquities Act was first used by President Roosevelt in 1906 to protect the Grand Canyon.
The BlueRibbon Coalition believes Clinton's creation of the monuments are unconstitutional because the property clause of the Constitution states, "the Congress shall have the power to dispose of and make all needful rules and regulations respecting the territory or property belong to the United States."
"This lawsuit is frivolous and has no legal merit," said Pam Eaton, the Wilderness Society's Four Corners regional director. "As Congress recognized in enacting the Antiquities Act in the first place, the law provides needed flexibility for the president to respond quickly to impending threats to resource protection, while striking an appropriate balance between legislative and executive decision-making. Congress retains the power to overturn any monument designation.”
Besides Grand Canyon-Parashant, other national monuments named in the lawsuit include Canyon of the Ancients (Colo.), Cascade-Siskiyou (Ore.), Hanford Reach (Wash.) and Ironwood Forest (Ariz.).
Two weeks ago, the Wilderness Society, Sierra Club, Natural Resource Defense Council, National Wildlife Fund and the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council filed a request with the district court in Washington to intervene in the lawsuit.
The Antiquities Act, one of the most direct ways of protecting land, states "that the president of the United States is hereby authorized, in his discretion, to declare by public proclamation historic landmarks, historic and prehistoric structures and other objects of historic or scientific interest that are situated upon the lands owned or controlled by the government of the United States to be national monuments ...."
"The Antiquities Act has been used to protect many of our nation's treasured places such as the Grand Canyon, the Grand Tetons, Acadia National Park, and the Statue of Liberty," said Jim Angell, an attorney with Earthjustice, representing the environmental groups requesting to intervene in the lawsuit. "Protecting these areas is a gift to future generations that should be met with applause rather than lawsuits."
"President Clinton's designations of these five national monuments carried with them significant restrictions on resource development within the monument boundaries,” said Tom Lustig, senior staff attorney at National Wildlife Federation. “Invalidating the designations would decrease the protections afforded these areas to the detriment of the scientific, aesthetic, conservation and recreational values of these special places."
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