Environmental groups sued President Trump Hours after he announced he would shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments in Utah.
Ten environmental groups including the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council are involved in the lawsuit, which claims that Trump doesn’t have the authority to reduce the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Separately, five Native American tribes—Hopi, Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, Pueblo of Zuni and Ute Indian—sued Trump over his planned changes to Bears Ears. The tribes also claimed he lacked the authority to shrink the monuments and wanted to make it clear that the issue with shrinking the monuments is cultural as well as environmental. The outdoor clothing company Patagonia also indicated it would file a lawsuit.
Trump’s announcement yesterday indicated that Bears Ears National Monument would shrink from 1.4 million acres to about 220,000 acres and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument would shrink from 1.9 million acres to about 1 million acres. Trump called the monuments’ designation an example of “egregious abuse of federal power,” which he would correct by putting control of the land back in the hands of the state, which is interested in the natural resources on the land.
Opponents of the decision say both national monuments contain sites of historical, cultural, and archaeological significance and that they are important centers of biodiversity.