All national monuments created since 1996 are to be placed under review by the Department of the Interior according to a new executive order signed by President Donald Trump. On Wednesday, April 26th, the outdoor retailer Patagonia threatened to sue if the executive order was placed into action.
The CEO of Patagonia, Rose Marcario, said that Trump doesn’t have the authority to undo the designation of a National Monument placed by an earlier president. The retailer has already been involved in a legal battle over two monuments that Obama designated in the last days of his presidency, and they are prepared to continue that fight to protect the national treasures of the United States.
Marcario went on to say that the brand was watching Trump and his administration closely for legality, and they are more than willing to take the fight to court to protect the landscapes of the nation. Patagonia has increased its position as a politically-charged brand since right before the election in November. On Black Friday, the brand made an amazing $10 million in sales, all of which they donated to help save the environment. Before the election, they spent upwards of $1 million on a campaign to get people to vote.
Before Obama left office, he and his administration designated 1.35 million acres of land in Utah as Bears Ears National Monument. Many Republicans lambasted the decision and called it nothing more than a federal land grab. They have since pleaded with the Trump administration to remove that designation so those lands can be sold and industrialized. The new National Monument was created under the authority of the 1906 Antiquities Act.
Patagonia has publicly stated that they will work with every bit of their power to help ensure that monument remains. To demonstrate their resolve, the retailer decided that it would not attend any trade shows in Salt Lake City, Utah, where the governor had formally requested that the national monument designation be rescinded. The executive order that Trump signed does not undo the designation, but it gives the Department of the Interior instructions to review those designations, so they could be reversed in the future.
When Trump signed the order, he said that many of the leaders in the community were concerned about preserving the land, yet they were also concerned with what he called the ‘land grab’ of the federal government. He went on to say that this order would help free up that land, despite the fact that doing so would drastically decrease the likelihood of the land being protected.
If Trump is successful in having these national landscapes returned for sale to the public, he will be the first president to ever rescind a designation of a National Monument by way of the Antiquities Act. There is no precedent for such an event, but there is also no direct language in the Act that prevents a president from doing so. Some experts believe that a president can only alter the designation, but not completely remove it.
This is just one example of how the Trump administration is fighting to remove public lands and sell them back to the public. A new law was just enacted in January that made it easier to transfer lands from the federal government to private developers of states, and that alteration could see the sale of nearly 3.3 million acres of previously protected or preserved land. That is an area roughly the size of Connecticut.
The Trump administration is supposed to serve as stewards of the public lands, but they have shown they have no interest in protecting those spaces. Indeed, it seems as if they are prepared to do exactly the reverse.