Marianas Variety

Last updateSun, 19 Aug 2018 8am







    Sunday, August 19, 2018-6:11:51A.M.






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Governor supports passage of National Monument Creation and Protection Act

GOVERNOR Ralph Torres supports H.R. 3990, the National Monument Creation and Protection Act that would allow local governments and communities to have a say on any monument designation proposals.

The U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources passed the bill on Wednesday.

Press Secretary Kevin Bautista said Torres agrees with the joint statements released by the Republican leadership on the committee’s recent action.

“This legislation not only modernizes an outdated law, but it also allows for greater transparency and outreach to the local communities and people that one-sided monument designations affect,” Bautista said.

“Regarding the designation of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument, the federal government has failed to provide the necessary and proper resources to realize the promises made to the CNMI during the negotiations for the creation of the monument itself,” he added.

“This includes the establishment of a co-management plan between our commonwealth government and the federal government, an increase in patrols for illegal fishing in the waters of the CNMI, and other incentives such as building a visitor center in the CNMI which could all help mitigate the loss of access to our natural resources.”

Bautista said the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument agreement was reviewed by the Department of the Interior.

“We understand that Interior has decided not to disband it at this time,” he added.

“While we wait for the Department of Commerce to finish their review, the governor and members of our Legislature are persistent in their efforts to ensure that our community’s concerns are heard and our people’s cultural and historical fishing access are not lost. H.R. 3990 supports those efforts.”

According to a media release from the Congressional Western Caucus, H.R. 3990 was introduced by U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop, R-Utah, to restore the original congressional intent of the Antiquities Act while modernizing the law for the 21st century.

“The comprehensive reform legislation includes provisions to protect endangered antiquities, prevent abuse of executive authority and the designation of excessive national monuments, and empower impacted local communities. These reforms thread the needle between balancing the protection of archeological resources with the elimination of egregious executive overreach,” Congressional Western Caucus stated.

“This bill retains presidential authority to designate national monuments up to 640 acres, allowing the president to rapidly protect objects of antiquity in imminent danger, restoring the original intent of the Antiquities Act. New monument designations between 640 acres and 10,000 acres will now require review under the National Environmental Policy Act prior to being finalized. Proposed new monument designations between 5,000 and 10,000 acres must be reviewed under an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement.

“The bill empowers state and local voices by requiring approval of all county commissions, state legislatures, and governors impacted by a national monument for any designation between 10,000 acres and 85,000 acres. Any monument designation larger than 85,000 acres would require an act of Congress. This bill also creates a new presidential authority to designate ‘Emergency National Monuments’ for up to one year, to protect areas of any size in times of emergency, as determined by the president. After invoking this authority, the president may never designate any of the effected lands as a future national monument.

“Misuse of this outdated 1906 Act has jeopardized the daily activities, livelihoods and traditions of local communities. In numerous instances, grazing rights, water rights, energy development, wildfire prevention and other land management activities have been negatively impacted. Massive declarations have also resulted in restrictive land-use regulations that have limited hunting, fishing, [Off Highway Vehicle] use and other recreational activities.”