GOP goes ballistic over use of Antiquities Act
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — In the midst of ongoing partisan battles over the budget and public land policy gridlock, President Barack Obama this week plans to designate five new national monuments, including a big swath of land around the Rio Grande River in northern New Mexico.
Conservation advocates welcomed the news, especially after a congressional session that yielded very little in the way of land conservation — the first Congress not to create any new wilderness in half a century.
In northern New Mexico, numerous community leaders expressed support for establishment of the Rio Grande del Norte monument, which will be managed by the BLM.
“As a Hispanic leader in New Mexico, a state that leads the nation with over 45 percent Hispanic population, I am writing to convey my strong support the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. The environmentally, culturally, and historically rich landscapes of the San Luis valley and Rio Grande Gorge encompass our newest national monument,” said Nicklos Jaramillo, a former Taos County Commissioner.
Republicans in Congress promptly turned the announcement of the designations as an opportunity to practice more partisan politics, without actually discussing the merits of the designations.
The statement issued by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings shows how the GOP is willing to use almost any circumstance to attack Obama and his policy on ideological grounds — and the GOP media organs like Fox News and the Washington Times followed suit, all using the same headline that were probably written by a backroom GOP media adviser: “Despite sequester, Obama designates new national monuments.”
Neither Hastings, nor any of those media outlets actually explained what the sequester has to do with monument designation. They just tried to create the public perception that Obama did something wrong by using the Antiquities Act.
“The Obama Administration not only sees the sequester as an opportunity to make automatic spending reductions as painful as possible on the American people, it’s also a good time for the President to dictate under a century-old law that the government spend money it doesn’t have on property it doesn’t even own,” Hastings said in his statement.
Hastings concluded by saying Obama’s actions should trigger a review and reform of the Antiquities Act, playing to his far right constituency.
The other monuments are First State National Monument in Delaware; Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument in Maryland; Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument in Ohio; and San Juan Islands National Monument in Washington state.