SACRAMENTO June 8, 2017 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today – exactly 111 years after President Teddy Roosevelt signed the landmark Antiquities Act into law – vowed to protect California’s national monuments that President Donald Trump is threatening. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke, Attorney General Becerra expressed his strong opposition to any attempt by the Trump Administration to revoke or weaken existing protections for national monuments.
“National monument designations protect the irreplaceable natural and cultural heritage that belongs to all Americans, ensuring that the haste or greed of one generation does not squander those gifts at the expense of future generations,” said Attorney General Becerra. “Any attempt by the Trump Administration to reverse decisions past presidents have made to safeguard our most treasured public lands is as unwise as it is unlawful. As the Attorney General of California, I am determined to take any and all action necessary to protect the American heritage which has become part of our monument lands.”
Six California national monuments are among the targets of Trump’s executive order: Berryessa Snow Mountain, Carrizo Plain, Giant Sequoia, Mojave Trails, Sand to Snow and San Gabriel Mountains. Attorney General Becerra today published a Medium post about these monuments.
Presidents of both political parties have invoked the Antiquities Act over the last century-plus to protect natural American treasures. In May, Trump signed an Executive Order instructing the Department of the Interior to “review” monument designations made by previous presidents.
Designating national monuments bestows important protections, which are otherwise non-existent or insufficient, for large areas of cherished land. In the letter, Attorney General Becerra underscores that Trump simply has no legal authority to question monument designations made by a predecessor under the Antiquities Act.