Proposed bill could prevent future monuments

Utah’s Sen. Mike Lee last week introduced the Protecting Utah’s Rural Economy Act, a bill that he says would protect the state from what he calls presidential Antiquities Act abuse in much the same way Alaska and Wyoming are currently protected.

“Rural Americans want what all Americans want: a dignified decent-paying job, a family to love and support, and a healthy community whose future is determined by local residents – not their self-styled betters thousands of miles away,” Lee said July 11.

“That is why I am introducing the Protecting Utah’s Rural Economy Act today, a bill that would protect Utah from future abuses under the Antiquities Act by prohibiting the president from establishing or expanding a national monument in Utah unless the proposed monument has been authorized by an act of Congress and the state legislature.”

Passed in 1906, the Antiquities Act was originally intended to protect objects of historic and cultural interest like artifacts and religious sites, said a press release from Lee’s office. “Unfortunately, what was once a narrowly targeted tool for preventing looting on federal lands has become a weapon urban elites use against hard working rural Americans,” said Lee.

Two states, Alaska and Wyoming, both received protections from future Antiquities Act designations after millions of acres were restricted in those states. “The PURE Act would give Utah’s rural communities a real voice in local land management policies, a voice they currently do not have today,” said Lee.