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Uncertainty for National Monument Declarations as Obama Presidency Winds Down


With just over two months left in office, President Obama has the option to declare national monuments under the Antiquities Act. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s unclear whether he’ll use that authority, and how the Trump administration may respond to such declarations. 

President Obama could designate any of nearly 20 proposed national monuments before the end of his term. Among them are Bears Ears in Utah, Gold Butte in Nevada, and 1.7 million acres outside of Grand Canyon National Park.

On his first day in office, Trump has promised to roll back any executive orders he considers unconstitutional. But no president has ever undone a national monument and legal scholars say it isn’t possible. Only Congress has that authority.

The incoming Republican-controlled House and Senate could choose to strip the president of the ability to designate national monuments. At last summer’s Republican National Convention, the GOP adopted amending the Antiquities Act as part of its platform, allowing only Congress to have that power. 

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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