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NTU Supports the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act
A Letter to Representative Devin Nunes
July 13, 2010
The Honorable Devin Nunes
Dear Representative Nunes:
On behalf of the 362,000 members of the National Taxpayers Union (NTU), I write in support of H.R. 5580, your National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act. This legislation would limit the amount of land that can be designated as a monument as well as the restrictions that can be placed on land interests, rights, and uses.
Currently, the President has near-unchecked authority to designate new national monuments wherever he deems appropriate. This stems from the Antiquities Act of 1906, which was implemented in response to fears surrounding potential destruction and theft of U.S. archeological landmarks. In the 100+ years since its inception, the Antiquities Act has created 71 national monuments in 26 states, spanning roughly 136 million acres. While this law has helped to save many important sites, it has also sometimes led to economic devastation of many communities across America due to its harsh land-use restrictions.
Your bill would restore some balance to the preservation process, by limiting the amount of land made available for national monuments and by making a vague, closed-door designation procedure much more transparent through Congressional approval for all monuments. Furthermore, the bill would make mandatory the dissemination of notices to Congress, governors, local governments, and tribes within the boundaries of the proposed monument, as well as require public hearings and a specified "comment period."
The federal government already has trouble overseeing the land it possesses, causing taxpayers considerable, unnecessary expenses. National monument proposals should undergo more deliberative examination if they are to serve their intended purposes without adversely affecting the neighboring communities and citizens they serve. We commend you for your work on this issue and offer your legislation our endorsement.
Any roll call votes related to H.R. 5580, the National Monument Designation Transparency and Accountability Act, will be significantly weighted in our annual Rating of Congress.