California attorney general to Trump: You can’t touch our national monuments

California’s attorney general argues that President Trump has no legal authority to revoke or modify national monuments created by previous administrations.

In an 11-page letter to the Interior Department, state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra vowed “to take any and all legal action necessary” to preserve six California monuments that the Trump Administration may attempt to revoke or shrink.

In April 2017, Trump signed an executive order directing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review all national monuments that were created since 1996 and are larger than 100,000 acres, or were expanded “without adequate public outreach.” Six California monuments created by Presidents Obama and Clinton are on the review list.

Monument designation adds another layer of protection to federal lands, typically putting them off limits to oil and gas development or limiting logging and grazing.

Presidents have the authority to designate monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906, which President Theodore Roosevelt used to set aside more than 800,000 acres in Arizona that later became Grand Canyon National Park.

In his letter, Becerra echoes arguments made by conservationists and many environmental attorneys: While the Antiquities Act gives presidents the authority to create monuments, it does not give presidents the authority to undo or modify them. That power belongs solely to Congress.

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