by Greg Walcher, E&E Legal Senior Policy Fellow
As Appearing in the American Spectator
Surprise, surprise — the Trump administration has reopened areas Democrat presidents shut off because they are rich in minerals and great for the local economy.
Since President Trump reduced the size of a couple national monuments in Utah, the chorus of critics has grown increasingly shrill, moving from press conferences expressing outrage, to lawsuits demanding reversal. Now the nation’s largest newspaper (the one back East) has uncovered what it considers one of the nation’s most embarrassing scandals — there are natural resources involved!
The paper’s crack reporters filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act, demanding public release of “secret” emails explaining why the Interior Department recommended, and President Trump approved, shrinking Bears’ Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments. The Department readily released the documents (how refreshing), and what they revealed appears to have shocked the eastern press establishment to its core. Namely, top officials were aware that the two monuments included lands that contain valuable minerals, especially coal.
Well, you could have knocked me down with a feather when I read about this, except for one small detail — everyone already knew it. In fact, the presence of one of the largest coal reserves on Earth was precisely the reason President Clinton created Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. A plan to reopen a once productive uranium mine was precisely the reason President Obama created Bears’ Ears National Monument.