AMA disappointed by Bruce Babbitt comments
February 06, 2013
PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- Former U.S.
Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt is wrong to urge President Obama to use
executive powers to close off public land, the American Motorcyclist
In a speech at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 5, Babbitt,
who served as Interior secretary under President Bill Clinton, said the current
administration should use the Antiquities Act and other powers to protect
public land from development.
But Wayne Allard, a former U.S. representative and U.S. senator from Colorado
who now serves as the AMA vice president for government relations, said such
actions would bypass the people's representatives in Congress. He called the
Babbitt comments disappointing.
"The administration shouldn't unilaterally decide how public land should
be managed," Allard said. "Those decisions need to be made in
Congress, with input from citizens and officials in the affected
The Antiquities Act of 1906 allows the president to declare national monuments.
The federal law was initially passed to protect native American artifacts such
as pottery from being taken from small tracts of federal land in the West. That
is, Congress determined that national monument designations were to be confined
to very small areas.
But presidents haven't interpreted the law to apply to small areas. Clinton
created an uproar in 1996 when he designated 1.9 million acres in southern Utah
as the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
President George Bush used the Antiquities Act to circumvent Congress and set
aside the future use of thousands of square miles of the Pacific Ocean without
public debate. In 2006, he designated 140,000 square miles of ocean and 10
islands and coral atolls in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands as a U.S.
National monuments don't automatically ban off-highway vehicle use but a
national monument designation makes it much easier to ban their use without
input from the public, elected representatives and affected communities.